June 22, 1951

?

Mr. Burns@

Certainly we could not say that.

In my opinion the figures given by the minister were entirely unreliable, and not figures on which his argument could properly be based. He has approached this whole question of the request for an increase in pensions on a needs basis, and as a result we have this vote of $2 million.

This vote will help only 6,000 out of over

160,000 pensioners in Canada-in other words, between three and four per cent. No pensioner, if single who has less than thirty-five per cent disability or if married who has less than forty-five per cent disability, receives benefits. The payment is $20 a month for a single man and $40 for a married man. The applicant must prove that he is unemployable. He must prove that the fact that he is unemployable is due to his disability. At the moment the vote reads as follows:

To provide financial assistance after the thirty-first of May, 1951, in accordance with regulations to be made by the governor in council to unemployable veterans who are in receipt of pension under the Pension Act for a disability which is a major factor contributing to their unemployability.

The committee has recommended that the word "major" be deleted.

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LIB

Leslie Alexander Mutch (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Mutch:

That has been agreed to.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I am glad to hear that the government has agreed to the change. There will be a different policy in each district, because this vote is to be administered out in the districts. The argument has been made that there is no means test connected with this vote. I believe that the vote has been set up purposely so that that argument could be made. For example, we are told that a man may have any amount of money in bonds or stocks, and if he is unemployable because of a pensionable disability he will still be eligible to get this handout. At the same time we are told that if a man is on superannuation, he will not be able to get it. Furthermore, anyone over 70 is not going to get it, but must be satisfied with the new old age pension. It will be of no help to the widows or children of veterans.

I believe that in the actual administration of this vote it will be found that there is not only a means test, but a very severe means test. I believe also that it is, in fact, brought in as an alternative to increasing the basic rate of pension. The arguments in the meetings of the committee indicate quite clearly the thought is that this will stop the demand for an increase in the basic rate of pension.

There is no doubt that the policy has been cleverly devised, in just the same way as the war veterans assistance fund was devised back in 1949. There were demands for an increase under the War Veterans Allowance

Act, and instead of meeting those demands the government brought in a vote. It was set out in the following terms:

To authorize under regulations to be approved by the governor general in council the establishment of an assistance fund (war veterans allowance) from which shall be paid supplementary assistance in cases of acute financial distress as may be found to exist from time to time among recipients of benefits under the War Veterans Allowance Act, 1946.

That vote was used to take off the pressure at the top. Recipients of the war veterans' allowance who were having difficulty were given assistance from this special fund, and that let off the steam, so to speak, and stopped a certain amount of the agitation for an increase in the war veterans' allowance. I suggest to this committee that the very same thing is being done by the supplementary allowance to certain pensioners under vote 650. It is designed to prevent further increases in the basic rate of pension, Unfortunately, it throws the Canadian war disabilities pension entirely off any basis; it unhinges the whole basis of the Canadian pension. That is one of the main reasons why the veterans organizations and the opposition members of the committee have opposed it.

The majority in the committee voted down a proposal that the terms of reference should be widened. The proposal was moved in these words by the member for Royal:

I would like to move an amendment:

That item 650 do not now carry but that this committee request the house that it be given instructions to consider the basic rates of pensions and the War Veterans Allowance Act and make recommendations in reference thereto.

Only one Liberal member of the committee voted for that amendment, and that was the member for Fraser Valley. All the rest voted against it and prevented the committee from coming back to the house with a request that its terms of reference be widened.

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SC
PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

The steam roller in action- that exactly described what happened. The same thing happened when item 650 was voted upon. Again we had the government combining, but in that case without any exception, whereas the members of the opposition voted against it.

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?

Some hon. Members:

One o'clock.

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PC
?

Some hon. Members:

Go ahead.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I had a feeling throughout that the members of the government on that committee were greatly embarrassed by government policy. I believe that the stand taken today by the member for Fraser Valley pretty

Supply-Veterans Affairs well represents the real feeling of many of the other government members on that committee.

The government's whole approach to the two main problems in veterans affairs in 1951, namely, the need for an increase in the basic rate of pension and an increase in the war veterans allowance, has been unwise and unfair. These Canadians who are involved have earned a decent pension. Those who are in receipt of war veterans allowance have earned the payment of an adequate amount for that allowance. Their fellow Canadians want them to receive adequate benefits. I do not think there would be any objection anywhere in Canada to giving these men what they so justly deserve. Yet this unwise and unfair attitude is being adopted at a time when the government is again calling on young Canadians to volunteer for service.

To me, Mr. Chairman, it is amazing to see the veterans of earlier wars being treated in such a cavalier fashion. I hope that even yet the government will change the policy on veterans affairs which it has been trying to force through during the present session.

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

The committee resumed at three o'clock.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

For a number of years since I came to the house I have been a member of the veterans affairs committee, and I must say that this year when the number from our group on that committee was reduced and I found myself not a member of the committee, I was a bit disappointed. But after reading the reference of the committee, and after hearing the remarks of the various members who were on the committee this year, and the frustration which they felt, largely owing to the narrowness of the terms of reference, I have not felt so badly that I was not a member of the committee.

We in Canada are in a fortunate position. Since 1939 we have increased tremendously our ability to produce goods and services. In dollar value our national product has practically tripled. In goods and services we have practically doubled the amount that is available to our people. The various claims that you and I and other people in our economy have on these goods and services are represented by the dollars which we earn in the form of wages or salaries or profits that we make in our businesses. In every sector of our community, practically, except one, these dollars have increased with the value of the national product. Wages have increased; returns to agriculture have

4498 HOUSE OF

Supply-Veterans Affairs increased; business profits have increased, and every sector in our economy has been able to purchase a fair share of the goods and services that we have been able to produce. But there is one exception to that, namely, the people who are on fixed incomes. Among them we find our people on old age pensions, and our returned men of the first and second wars.

In 1948 the veterans affairs committee did increase the basic pension by twenty-five per cent. In other words we recognized at that time that these people were not able to purchase their share of the goods and services which we were able to produce in Canada, and we gave them twenty-five per cent more purchasing power. Since that time the dollar value of these goods and services has increased, but we have not given to our pensioners the ability to use these goods and services which we are able to produce, or their fair share of these goods and services. Everyone in Canada realizes that.

Our various veterans organizations have been very fair in their demands on the government. They have never asked for everything that the traffic would bear. They have asked for what they thought was a fair share of the goods and services we were producing. They accepted the twenty-five per cent increase under protest, and there were many of us on the veterans affairs committee in 1949 who thought that some more flexible legislation should have been brought in. As a matter of fact, at that time we in this group moved a resolution which in effect would have increased the basic pension to 33J per cent, plus one dollar additional per month on each pension for each point rise in the cost of living index. Had that been accepted, our pensioners now would have been getting enough dollars to purchase their share of the goods and services. That resolution went to a vote in the committee and the committee divided evenly on it. The chairman cast the deciding vote against the resolution, and as a result we find that those on fixed pensions are in a pretty difficult position. It is only natural that they should come to parliament to rectify that situation; but we find the government bringing in item 650. I fail to recognize why they are prepared to give consideration only to those who are unemployable-unemployable because of medical reasons or because of the particular situation in the district in which they live. We find this vote being brought in which will alleviate the position of an estimated

6,000 of our veterans. But it does not affect the great bulk of our veterans. It does not change their position one iota. They are still in exactly the same position as they were before.

[Mr. Wright.1

If hon. members will give consideration to it, they cannot help but recognize the justness of the claims which are being made at this time for some change in the basic pension scheme, some general increase in the basic pension.

The hon. member for Royal moved a resolution asking that war veterans allowances be referred to the committee. He failed. We tried from a different angle, and again we failed to get consideration of that suggestion. Now we find that under the new old age pension scheme, which was introduced yesterday, those receiving the basic pension of $40 a month will be allowed to earn income up to $20 a month. Under the war veterans allowance, war veterans are allowed to earn income of only $10 a month. That means that many of these veterans, when they reach the age of 65, will inevitably transfer to the old age pension scheme. They will then become a fifty per cent responsibility of the provinces. That is a fine way for this government to shift some of its responsibilities to the provinces, but it is not fair to the provinces, because some of them, the wealthier ones, may be able to carry that load, but it is certain that some of them will not be able to carry it.

In discussing old age pension legislation in this house yesterday it was indicated that certain of the provinces were going to find it very difficult to institute the full 65 to 69 old age pension; that they might have to raise the age limit, or they might have to reduce the amount. If we as a government transfer some of our responsibilities with regard to war veterans allowances, which are the responsibility of the dominion, to the provinces, it just means that they are in that much worse position in regard to their responsibilities to our citizens between 65 and 69 years of age. I do not think that is fair. I do not think it is treating the provinces fairly.

Perhaps we have failed at this session to get the government to give more consideration to this basic pension and more consideration to the war veterans allowance. But so far as I am concerned and so far as this group is concerned-indeed, I believe so far as the whole opposition is concerned-we will not let the matter stop there. We are certainly going to come back to parliament at the fall session demanding that the government do something with regard to this matter. I do not believe veterans organizations are prepared to let the matter drop.

This item 650, this supplementary pension we are about to give to the unemployables, will help in certain instances, but must be very difficult to administer. Anyone who

gives a moment's thought to the matter can see the difficulty we are going to run into in the administration of a vote such as this. The regulations will be made in Ottawa, and the administration of those regulations will have to be left to thousands of officials across the dominion. Each of those officials will interpret the regulations in his own way. There will be such a variety of interpretations that, unless some appeal board is set up to pass upon the regulations or upon the judgments of the officials, there will be a totally different administration of the vote in different areas of the dominion.

I can just picture what will happen after this has been in operation for six months or a year: each member of the house will have dozens of cases referred to him for his attention. The department is asking for trouble, and I am afraid it will get it in connection with the administration of a vote such as this. In my opinion it certainly cannot be administered fairly throughout the dominion, because of the entirely different conditions of employment in the different parts of the country, and because of the different interpretations which will be given to any regulations set up under the act.

Therefore I would urge that, if the government is not prepared to do something at this session.-and apparently it is not-something should be done at the fall session with regard to the basic pension and the war veterans allowance.

With regard to the treatment of children and widows of war veterans, it is true that under the amendments to the act some alleviation has been given to them; but there is no increase so far as orphans are concerned. It seems to me that we in parliament have a responsibility to the children of deceased veterans, that of making available to them the best educational facilities in the country. Certainly, under the present scale of payments to widows and orphans, those children are not going to be able to have the education to which they are entitled. No one will argue that on $40 a month a child can be educated in high school and in college. Yet in many cases, if the veterans of these children had returned to Canada, we would have been prepared under the veterans charter to give those veterans three or four years of university education. But under the present legislation we refuse to make that education available to the children. That is not good enough, and I do not believe the people of Canada think it is good enough. They would agree with me that the children of those veterans are entitled to every advantage that would have been theirs if their

Supply

Veterans Affairs fathers had returned. The fathers, nad they returned, would have assumed that responsibility. Unfortunately, however, they did not, and the government, through parliament, has a responsibility to those children to see that they get the best education that they are able to assimilate and use. It is to our advantage as well as that of the children. If we have another war-which God forbid-we shall have to go back to our young men and ask them to make sacrifices, and they are going to consider the treatment we have given to them and the children of the men who served in the last two wars.

It seems impossible that parliament should not give more sympathetic consideration to the position of our veterans and their children. It is only common sense and good business to administer our legislation in such a way that the people whom we are going to ask to serve will feel that they are serving a country that will look after their children and their rights. We are not doing that when we maintain our pension at its present level. As I said at the beginning, it simply means that those veterans are not able to purchase their share of the goods and services we can produce.

Before taking nay seat I would urge the minister and the government at the fall session to bring in legislation, and to set up the veterans affairs committee again after placing before it a reference under which it will be in a position to give further consideration to these matters and to make recommendations to meet the needs of the veterans and carry out what I am sure will be the wishes of the people of Canada as a whole.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

Mr. Chairman, I have only a brief word. I have had a good deal to do with veterans, but let me say now that I have never written a letter to the pension board to which I have not received a prompt reply. Many cases have come to my attention. I have not always got everything I asked for, because I have asked for some things that were not according to law. I must, however, pay my tribute to the officials for their efficiency and for their judgment tempered with mercy.

One case in particular had reference to a veteran of the first war. At the time I reported it conditions were different, and I was not able to follow it through. The man in question was reported by a local doctor as having shrapnel in his liver. Perhaps I might add in passing that the doctor was a gold medallist. Recently he went to Scotland, and, despite the fact that he is more than forty years of age, took one of the highest possible degrees in surgery.

Supply-Veterans Affairs

The person in question could work for only two or three days at a time but, like the independent Scotsman he was, he would not give up. Now we are trying to get a pension for his widow. I pay my tribute to the chairman who, I believe, is doing everything possible to have that pension approved. In my view the wife should have at least $60 a month from the time her husband died. This man had served gallantly in the first war, and gave his life for his God and his country. The best we can do for his widow is none too good.

I believe I have nothing further to add at the moment.

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to associate myself with and to endorse the remarks of the hon. members for Royal and Vancouver-Quadra concerning our position so far as veterans affairs are concerned, and the position taken by members of this party in the committee on veterans affairs. That has been discussed in some detail; therefore my observations will be brief.

I regret, in common with I think all others who have spoken here today, that the reference to the committee on veterans affairs this year was so limited, and I regret particularly that it was impossible for us in the committee to discuss, deal with and make recommendations in connection with war veterans allowances. I do not think there is a question in the mind of anyone in this house or throughout the country that the considerable increase which has taken place in the cost of living has placed disability pensioners and the recipients of war veterans allowances in an extraordinarily difficult position. As far as war veterans allowance recipients who have no other means of livelihood are concerned, I just cannot see how they can live. It seems to me it must be almost impossible for them to keep body and soul together on that allowance at the present time with the prices that prevail.

There is no question that the basic need at the present time is an increase in disability pensions across the board and also in the war veterans allowance. This is the last place in which any attempt at saving within the government service should be made. Therefore I do not think anyone need apologize for asking for an increase of expenditures in connection with disability pensions and war veterans allowances.

I think the least that could be done in connection with war veterans allowances-if it is not done now, I would hope it will be done immediately at the commencement of the fall session-is to increase the amount of allowable extra income which a recipient may have. Considering the increased cost of living

it seems most unreasonable that these recipients should be held down to the same limits of extra income which have prevailed since the war. Such a move would not cost the government a nickel and it would greatly ease the position of a large number of these war veterans allowance recipients. It would encourage many of these people to take on *casual work which under the present circumstances they usually do not do because their earnings will cut down their allowance and in addition they get into all sorts of difficulties with the department.

A considerable number of the most difficult cases I have had to deal with and bring to the attention of the officials of the department have been cases where war veterans allowance recipients have taken extra work and as a result have earned more than the allowable income. This was taken away from them later on and in many cases they were left in most pitiful circumstances. As I say, this would not cost anything to put into effect and it is something I hope will be done immediately.

I think it has been amply demonstrated that this unemployability supplement is contrary to our basic concept of a disability pension. Up to the present time that concept has been that this pension is given as of right. There was no means or any other test connected with it. Whether the test which is now going to be imposed is a means test or an unemployability test, it comes to the same thing-it is a compromise with the basic idea of our pension system. I opposed it in the committee and I propose to continue to oppose it. I think the Canadian Legion and the dominion veterans council were right and justified in the opposition they showed to this unemployability supplement. I do not think the arguments they put forward have been refuted.

It was suggested by Major Wickens who put forward the views of the Canadian council that if any such thing as this unemployability supplement was going to be put into effect it should be in conjunction with the war veterans allowance and not in conjunction with the disability pension. I urged that in the committee and I still think that that is the proper course to follow. Even at this late date I hope the government will take this action and try to tie this in with the war veterans allowance rather than to do it in the way it is being done.

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LIB

Arthur Laing

Liberal

Mr. Laing:

Mr. Chairman, this is the first occasion upon which I have spoken on veterans affairs. I am not a veteran and I have the idea that in some fields there may be some feeling of presumption when those who are not veterans essay to speak on veterans

affairs. At the present time there are in the House of Commons 98 members who are veterans of either the first or the second world war. They have approached this subject of veterans problems without any regard to politics. I think the most enjoyable part of the debate so far is due to the fact that these problems have been approached without any regard to politics. I hope that spirit will always exist. If they are approached from any other point of view, the only loser will be the veteran.

I have always been struck with the treatment that is given the veteran of the second world war as compared to that given to the veteran of the first world war. I was just a youngster at the time, but if my memory serves me correctly the boys who came back in 1918 got $70 for six months with a clothing allowance of some $50 and the country more or less said to them "Goodbye, and good luck." I often felt that any improvement that was made in their position was brought about only as a result of the greatest pressure being exerted.

I had the good fortune to be a guest in the galleries of this house in 1945 when the thirteen bills that made up the so-called veterans charter were enacted. They made up a particularly generous piece of legislation and I think we are realizing now how wise it was for the veterans of the second, world war. I can remember many people saying in connection with the educational grants, "What are we going to do with all these university graduates?" This year the corporations in Canada are grabbing the graduates from our universities at such a rate that it is to be regretted that we have not twice as many. The wisdom shown by that legislation which arose out of the work of a committee of some 60 members of all parties who tried to do the best they could for the veterans of Canada should be an indication of what can be done in the future.

I want to bring one thing to the attention of the committee, the position of the old, sick and broken veteran who in many hundreds of cases is living in abject circumstances in many of our cities. I think the other Vancouver members will agree with me when I say that every week we see six or seven obituary notices in the paper with the little maple leaf up in the corner. The padres have to go around and arrange burials for these men. That is not much of a tribute to men who were considered to be heroes in 1919. I suggest to the minister that this particular situation cannot be taken care of by increasing the pension. We must go beyond that. I contend that there will have to be a greater extension of institutional care for these men.

Supply-Veterans Affairs

I think the veteran organizations are in the best position of any organization to give advice to the minister regarding veterans affairs. They know their present conditions and present needs. I hope the minister will keep closely in touch with veteran organizations in all parts of the country and consider their representations on behalf of their own groups as well as their individual members.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Mr. Chairman, when we hear the word "veterans" mentioned in this house today we must dismiss from our minds such men as myself. Although a veteran of the first war, I have had the great privilege of being able to make a livelihood, and fortunately most of the men who served in the first great war find themselves in a similar position. When we speak of veterans today we are speaking on behalf of men whom, if we will recollect, we saw leave Canada during the years 1914 to 1918. They were not men in those days. They were men in the sense that they were soldiers, but they were boys. Everybody in the Dominion of Canada and all our allies were delighted to see them pulling out from the hamlets, villages, towns and cities of the Dominion of Canada to board transport ships to go across to a foreign land to offer their lives. If it had not been for those men and the men of the last war from all countries who volunteered to protect those who were not as fortunate, who did not have the privilege of offering their lives or their services in the defence of their homes, there would not be such a thing as a veteran.

If these men had not gone as freely and willingly as they went there would be no House of Commons, and we who are sitting here would not have the privilege of voting a sum of money to see that men who cannot look after themselves are taken care of in the manner that they should be. We must bear in mind how delighted we were to see them boarding the trains, boats and ships of the navy during the first war. We must remember that they were standing there when the first gas attack took place at Ypres in 1915, that they were the men who went over the top at Vimy Ridge and captured it for the first time from the enemy. We must remember the men of the second war who jumped into water over their depth on the beaches of Normandy with full equipment. These are the men who have made it possible for us to debate and decide in this House of Commons how those who were not so fortunate as I was are going to be compensated for the sacrifices they made on our behalf.

We must always bear in mind the bands, the bugles, the boys marching in the streets, the sailors, the airmen, the soldiers. These are the people we are considering today, and

Supply-Veterans Affairs I am sure that members of the House of Commons do not want to express their appreciation in any slighting manner. I say to members of all parties that here is one group of men and women who must receive our first consideration. They are men who, because of their services to the country, now find themselves in not as good a position as we are. They are men who are handicapped through the hardships of war. Those who served to some degree, and some to a greater degree than others, are familiar with the events of the first war. Let us not lay our heads on our pillows at night and sleep with any degree of satisfaction if any man who is incapacitated through service to his country is in need. When men of the medical profession have announced that a man is in need of a certain pension, and that man has a little more energy and ability than some other fellow and is able to earn some extra income, his pension has been set by, we hope, a competent medical board and they have decided that he is entitled to so much money for the sacrifices he has made for us. That should stand. His added energy and his added willingness to work and earn a few extra shekels are none of our business. We should never forget as long as we live that it is such sacrifices that make it possible for us to sleep at nights in our homes. It is because of such sacrifices that we do not have German hordes overrunning and enslaving the people of the Dominion of Canada, every man, woman and child on the North American continent.

Today it is the ideals of the veteran and his sacrifices that make the Russian hordes stand still and realize that they will have that type of man to contend with. Let us hope that members of the House of Commons are the kind of people who will not forget the type of men who have stemmed the tide of the enemy and made it possible for us to sit in the House of Commons and give a justifiable reward to these people. Never forget the sacrifices they have made. There is hardly a day that I do not thank God that I am able to make a living, that I am able to sit in the House of Commons, and that I have not been incapacitated to any great extent through my service in the first great war. The least I can do is to say to members of the House of Commons, as a veteran of the first war who is very fortunate in not having been incapacitated, Let us not forget. Let us bend backward, a little too far if necessary, in behalf of the defenders of our homes and our land.

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SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. Fair:

I feel compelled to say a few words in support of the veterans and those dependent upon them. I was quite interested in the speeches delivered so far today. I listened to the hon. member for Royal, the

hon. member for Kootenay West, the hon. member for Acadia, the hon. member for Fraser Valley, the hon. member for Van-couver-Quadra and many others whom I will not take time to enumerate. One of the last was my good friend from Vancouver South who is in the same boat as I am inasmuch as we did not take part in any of the wars. I feel I am compelled to say a few words in support of the pleas of the veterans organizations because I am a comparatively ablebodied Canadian citizen, and while I have complained about paying certain taxes I am not going to complain about paying any taxes that are necessary to take care of our veterans and their families.

I have been able to compliment veterans affairs committees that have been set up in the past. They have done a really good job, and I am quite satisfied that the veterans who sat on the committee this year would have done an equally good job if they had mot been fettered by the terms of reference laid down by the government. Their position reminds me of the old maid who had a cat. They both lived in an apartment together, and on one occasion when the old maid was going away she brought a tin of canned milk for the cat but did not leave a can opener, and the poor cat starved to death.

The veterans affairs committee was set up this year for the first time since 1948, but the terms of reference were not broad enough to permit them to look after the needs of the veterans and their dependents. I have read the speech of the minister, and I am not very well satisfied with it. At page 22 of the report of the proceedings of the special committee the minister said:

Now, the item that is before you as a supplementary estimate implements the intention of the government to provide supplementary allowances for pensioners who are unemployable and whose pensionable disability is a major factor in their unemployability.

I feel all veterans receiving pensions are entitled to consideration under this measure and not only those who are unemployable. The minister gave consideration to these fellows later because at page 23 he said:

Now, a pensioner lives with his disability twenty-four hours a day and not only during his working hours, and therefore it seems we should consider a pension in terms broader than that of a subsistence allowance.

I am glad the minister has the good sense to recognize that. I only wish he had followed along the right path, because that is the basis upon which this compensation should be dealt with and not for the purpose of giving these people a very slim standard of living. He said on page 22:

As you know, representations were made to the department last autumn by the Canadian Legion and by the national council of veterans associations

for an increase across the board in the basic rate of pension, and for various other measures of assistance to pensioners and dependents.

I feel that the government should have paid a little more attention to the request of these organizations, because these organizations are made up, as we all know, of men who have done their bit in the past to look out for our safety and prosperity. Again I say that while I have complained bitterly of certain taxation no one will ever hear me complain about paying taxes to look after our veterans and their dependents.

Then the minister went on to say:

Now, after very careful consideration of the representations by responsible veterans organizations and after having made a survey of the situation ourselves we came to the conclusion that the most pressing problem or problems, rather, were those of pensioners who were unable to work and who had to consider their pensions, at whatever rate it might have been, as their sole source of income; and similarly that there was hardship in the cases of widows with small children who because of the care they had to give to their children were unable to supplement their pension income.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs had his Anger right on the trouble spot, but apparently the government or the treasury board- I am not sure from whom he got his instructions-were not willing to take care of those cases of hardship that should be taken care of by a prosperous Canada.

After dealing with what I spoke of a moment ago, the pensioner having to live with his disability for twenty-four hours a day, the minister said at page 23:

This change in the concept of disability which has taken place in the last few years is certainly due in great part to the courage and the determination of the disabled persons themselves who have been the greatest single contributing factor to this change in our thinking because they have refused to be retired, they have refused to be in sheltered employment, they have insisted they can be completely self-supporting in the competitive field of business and industry, and the success which their tenacity has achieved has certainly taught us a great deal of how little in some cases the most serious disabilities may interfere with every day earning of a living.

Again I think the minister is straying off the track. While these men suffer every day of the week, and in many cases twenty-four hours of the day, they have that tenacity that has been mentioned by the minister. Had they not had this tenacity perhaps they would not have done the fighting that they have, and which has been the cause of their disabilities. I feel that instead of dealing with their pensions as a means of giving them a slim standard of living, they should have been dealt with as a compensation for the disabilities they have and the suffering they are enduring from one year to the other.

Supply-Veterans Affairs I am not going to take up too much time, but I should like to quote this portion of the minister's statement before the special committee. It appears on page 24.

Now, to give the result of these investigations in very general terms we found that over ninety per cent of pensioners were employed and that their income as a whole compared favourably with their incomes before their enlistment.

I believe everyone realizes that wages and cost of living were entirely different at the time these men enlisted from what they were during the period in which the department was giving consideration to the incomes received by these men. I say that should not be the basis of their compensation. At the bottom of page 24 he had this to say: Might I add, Mr. Chairman, that, as hon. members of the committee know, besides the provisions for this unemployability supplement, bills will shortly be laid before you to amend the Pension Act so as to increase the amount payable in respect of children of widows to assist in the education of the children of men who have died in the country's service and to extend the limiting date for world war I veteran marriages.

Again I point out that those children have to have food, clothing and shelter as well as education. Those things should certainly be taken care of by the people of this country.

In speaking a while ago the member for Vancouver South mentioned the $70 a month for six months and the clothing allowance of $50 given to the men who were discharged after the first great war. Over the years we have been trying in this house, and in the veterans affairs committees, to do something to rectify many of the wrongs that have been done to these veterans of world war I. I believe that those who came back from world war II have received better treatment because of the manner in which the members showed up the treatment that had been accorded the men who came back from the first war. We have with us still many of the wrongs that have been done to veterans of the first world war. Our old soldier settlers are an example. We have done a little bit from time to time at the instance of members of the opposition, and some on the other side, including the parliamentary assistant to the minister, who has been right out in the open in his defence of these men, the member for Fraser Valley and some others I should name; but we have not been able to settle all the injustices these men have received. It is not too late yet.

We are never too old to improve our ways or to lessen the suffering of those of our fellow men who have had disabilities imposed upon them while discharging their duty towards their country. I would urge, as many other members have urged, that the war veterans allowance and the basic pension

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Supply-Veterans Affairs for disabled veterans be increased. Today we are appealing to young men and women to enlist tor service in Korea, and in the forces we are gathering in support of the North Atlantic pact. Many of them are able to look back and see the treatment that has been meted out to their fathers, and in some cases their mothers, so I feel that this is a poor time for us to treat the veterans as this legislation is doing. Item 650 is quite all right, but it does not go far enough. The suggestions that have been made by the many members who have spoken in support of better treatment for the war veterans receiving war veterans allowance and disability pension should be heeded, even at this late date. The act could be amended, so let us get busy and do something about it.

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IND

John Lambert Gibson

Independent

Mr. Gibson:

I, too, have been very much impressed by the obvious sincerity of the speeches that have been made by hon. members here today. I would not want to be unfair and not pay a tribute to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and to his parliamentary assistant, because I appreciate that they have been doing what they believe to be right. Of the officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs and of the officials of the pensions branch I can say that they have certainly always demonstrated to me since I have been here that they are men of broad sympathies for the veterans, and are men of real capacity and integrity. I should like to congratulate them upon the excellent work that they have been doing. On behalf of my constituents and on behalf of the sixteen Canadian Legions and ladies auxiliaries to those legions in the riding of Comox-Alberni, I should like to express appreciation to the members of the veterans affairs committee. I do not think that the public generally in Canada have an appreciation of the tremendous amount of work and study that the members of that committee have put into the discharge of their duties. I must thank them and congratulate them on the work that they have done.

Unfortunately, I myself cannot claim the honour of being a veteran, and I was therefore ineligible to act on that committee. But as a civilian, I should just like to say that I feel that civilians generally in Canada did fairly well out of both the first and second great war. We had opportunities of making financial gains at a time when others in this country were wasting the best years of their youth and were taking great chances on our behalf.

As a civilian I should like to say this. The government will never find me complaining about any tax that it sees fit to impose upon me and on other civilians in Canada in order

to meet our just obligations to the veterans. It seems to me that the government, in saying that they will not institute a system of price control-in which view I have concurred-have done the right thing. I believe they have been wise so far in resisting the pressure to institute over-all price controls in Canada. At the same time I feel that they have an obligation to see that certain segments of our population are protected from the ravages of inflation. Now that we have passed legislation to take care of our senior citizens by means of this universal old age pension at 70, it seems to me that we should do our utmost to see that the veterans in this country are given generous treatment.

As I have said before in this chamber, the large surpluses this government has accumulated since 1945 have not been the result of anything startling in the way of management. They have been the result of the depreciated value of the dollar. We have built up a surplus of $2 billion here since the end of the war. Just last year a dramatic surplus was announced in our budget. The last two months have shown that our revenues are running high because of the fact that inflation is still continuing in this country. This $2 million that we have offered here, compared with our general budget, is such a niggardly sum that I feel almost ashamed that that is all we are going to offer the veterans this year in order to compensate them for the decreased purchasing power of the dollar since 1948, the last time we readjusted their pensions. As I say, I feel almost ashamed that all we can offer them this year is $2 million.

The supplementary estimates have not been brought down yet. I should like the government to consider perhaps doubling this sum that is going to be made available. I should also appreciate it greatly if the minister could say to us that he will undertake to have this matter opened up again in the fall so that we may consider it in the light of the circumstances that may be before us and before the pensioners themselves.

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PC

William Gourlay Blair

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blair:

Mr. Chairman, I shall not take up the time of the committee for long. I was a member of the veterans affairs committee in this last parliament. I was also a member of the veterans affairs committee which sat for four years and which was responsible for the veterans charter. But since this matter has come into the house, I have heard various viewpoints advanced, and I am glad to say that the feeling of the house in general and,

I think, of every member, has been one of sympathy for the veteran.

There are certain things that we should consider when we think of veterans of both

the first and the second great wars. Some of those things were mentioned by the last two or three hon. members who have spoken. The veterans of the first war were in a position different from that of veterans of the second war. In the first war we accepted men in the army from the ages of 18 to 50. In the second war we had more mechanical equipment, the type of warfare was different, and it was a war for which only younger men were fitted. But in the period between the first war and the second one we came through the period of the depression in the thirties. Many of our older veterans, during the ten years from 1930 to the beginning of the last war in 1939, in common with many other people in this country, had little or no opportunity to put by any backlog of savings.

I do not like the term that is sometimes used: burnt-out veterans pension. I do not like the word "pension" at any time. I should like to see it called not a war veterans pension but a war disability compensation. To me that seems better than calling it a pension. But the people who are receiving war veterans allowance are now becoming older and they are feeling the effects of age. They are also feeling the effects of the high cost of living. I know that some of these men are in want. I know that some of them need help.

When item 650 came before the veterans affairs committee, I felt that it was not broad enough. I also felt that the terms of reference to the committee should have been broadened. I should like to have seen that committee review completely the position of veterans of both the first and the second war.

I also found out-I was not aware of it at the time-when I heard the brief of the Canadian Legion and also the brief of the national council, that the Canadian Legion had made representations to the government last fall. The national council has some

350,000 members and the Canadian Legion has a large membership. Those two bodies together, in their membership, represent practically all the returned men in the Dominion of Canada. When they brought in a brief suggesting the position they were in and that certain amendments should be made to this bill, and when I heard the witnesses who appeared before the veterans affairs committee, I felt that there was something decidedly wrong. As I said, I did not like the terms of reference. If I needed anything more to make me feel as I did, it was supplied when I saw the witnesses before the committee and heard the briefs presented.

Something new has been brought out in the way of legislation. We formerly passed our legislation on the question of disability.

Supply-Veterans Affairs This provision seems to accommodate a certain few of the pensioners, a matter of 6,000. When we have made this departure from the existing legislation, I feel that we have made a mistake. I still feel that pension or war disability compensation should be based on disability, and that that is the only way in which we can do a right and proper job of assessing the amount of compensation necessary.

The other point which bothered me a great deal in the committee was the fact that out of the total number of pensioners numbering about 162,000-and I use the short term now-we are singling out 6,000 to receive additional compensation. I feel that the amount should be increased across the board both for pensioners and for people on war veterans allowance. Age has entered into this matter. Age has been added sometimes to disability, especially with regard to the pensioner of the first war.

That raises the question of the term "unemployability". I opposed that term in the committee and I say again to the minister that the question of proving unemployability is going to be difficult when it comes to the matter of administration, as well as the matter of the disability of the pensioner. As I explained at the time when this question was before the committee, when you get age added to a war disability you have something which it is difficult to assess. The veterans of the first war are becoming older. The matter of age is becoming something that we have to recognize. We have to recognize it by making it possible for these men to live in some degree of comfort. The two wars were different. That is admitted. One was stationary. The line did not change so very much. But there were hardships. That was realized by the government of the time that brought in war veterans allowance. They recognized that that period did take from a man some of the strength of his physique that he might have in later years. If it was true at that time, it is truer at the present time. When you add to that the fact that there is possibly a hidden disability, which adds to the disability of age, you can see that these men are finding it very difficult to get along in the world at the present time. For that reason I feel that the amount which is set forth in this vote is entirely inadequate to deal with the situation at the present time for the veterans of the first war, the second war and also those on war veterans allowance.

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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

I just have a few words to say, which arise as a result of some observations by hon. members across the way. They have indicated that there were a great number of

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Supply-Veterans Affairs young members on the committee, particularly from the Liberal side of the house. I think the inference was left that they were not able to cope with this problem. It was a younger committee, and it was composed of veterans.

Let me say this to begin with. The opposition certainly threw in their first team, and it is fair to say that the committee, from their point of view, was studded with political giants. In so far as we were concerned, we had a nucleus of our first team on there, but we were rather in the fortunate position of having a great number of able young men, who are veterans. They are capable. We gave them a bit of seasoning on the committee so that they in turn will become as experienced as we have turned out to be.

One thing must be said for our men on the committee. They applied themselves. They were very energetic and they attended to their duties. There is no doubt that if we had had a wider term of reference we would have done a better job than we did, but do not forget, the house gave us the terms of reference.

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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

The people's representatives gave us the terms of reference. Just before the house rose for lunch the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra said something that I thought was a little unnecessary. He said that hon. members were embarrassed with government policy.

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June 22, 1951