May 9, 1953

CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

Yes; re-establishment credits. I am now thinking about a case which the minister and I have been writing about. It is that of a nurse who served during the war, came back to Canada and ultimately landed over in the United States. She still has her rehabilitation credits. I got in touch with the minister to find out whether those credits could be paid outside of Canada. The answer was no. In the second place, he advised me that those credits could be converted only by using them as payment on an annuity or on insurance through the government. That was a few months ago; the matter has not been settled yet.

Under present regulations that is the only alternative the minister can offer; but I say that is wrong. That money belongs to that particular woman. It was granted by the Canadian government for the purpose of rehabilitation. She located in British Columbia. Both she and her husband found that, in order properly to set themselves up in life, there were greater opportunities in their professions in the United States; and like hundreds of other Canadians they shifted to where they could do the best for themselves.

Supply-Veterans Affairs They are young people. That was where they could do the best job of rehabilitating themselves, so they went to the United States. The government, by law, said that was their money. If the legislation prohibits payment of that money outside of the country, I think the law should be amended. If these people could better set themselves up in life and do a better job of rehabilitating themselves elsewhere, then I think that money should have been given to them. However, that lady is prepared to convert that money into a government annuity if and when she gets the necessary information as to how to go about it. We are hoping that the information will come soon.

The second case that has been brought to my attention is that of a former captain in the army. He lived in my part of the country, then went to Saskatchewan and lived there for some time. He still nursed his gratuity credits. He visited home about a year ago. His father at this time is in receipt of the old age security pension. But there is the old homestead there, and when the boy visited his home he said, "This place looks as though it needs to be fixed up." He was born there. He said to his father, "Go ahead and fix it up. This is going to be my home in the future. Fix it up, renovate it, and the amount which I have in gratuity credits I will pass on to you; I will draw it and use it for the purpose of building up the home I am going to live in in the future". Then he went back to Saskatchewan and, unfortunately, a few days after going back, he lost his life in a fire. But in the meantime the father had undertaken the obligation of carrying out the boy's wishes and had started the renovation of the home.

I carried on a considerable amount of correspondence with the department as to whether in a case of that kind, the credits could not be considered as part of the boy's estate and be passed on to his next of kin as such. Apparently there is some latitude in the administration of these regulations if the parents were considered to be wholly dependent. I drew up a fairly strong case of dependency. It was admitted by the department that at the time of his death that particular boy was contributing approximately $40 a month toward the maintenance of his parents, and that all during his period of service he did contribute to the maintenance of his parents. But in this particular case the last decision I obtained was that, despite all the factors that had been presented to the department, the parents could not be considered as being* wholly dependent on the boy at the time of

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Supply-Veterans Affairs his death; and so his rehabilitation credits accrue to the crown. .

I do not think any law should be as firm as that. Certainly in this case, and in several others like it, there are extenuating circumstances. I realize that the lawyers who draft the legislation do so from the legal point of view, and that they make it as airtight as possible. But I think even in this case there is flexibility, and that the question of "wholly dependent" is a matter of interpretation. The fact that that boy was renovating the home in which he figured he would live in the later years of his life, and the fact that at his request the parents undertook the obligation of renovating that home at some considerable expense should, I believe, be taken into consideration.

In this particular case I think the department made a mistake. In my opinion those who interpreted that "wholly dependent" could have granted the rehabilitation credits as part of that boy's estate. I hope the minister will take a look at that case some time.

I am not blaming anybody. As I said when I started, the departmental officials can go only as far as the legislation will permit them to go. But in this particular case I think someone should take a look at it and see whether something could not be done to carry out the last wishes of that boy as expressed the last time he was home.

All this adds up to the fact that I agree with the hon. member for Fraser Valley, the hon. member for Royal and many others who over the past couple of years have said that a standing committee of the House of Commons should be set up to deal with veterans affairs.

Since 1945 the House of Commons committee on veterans affairs has not been a committee of this house on veterans affairs. It has been a committee appointed for the purpose of examining legislation, not to study and recommend but to examine legislation drafted and referred to it, which is a completely different thing. In 1940 when the committee was first set up for the purpose of opening up the old legislation and relating the new forces to it, we did not just go in and study the bills; we went in there and examined the whole question. Out of the deliberations and studies of that committee came a whole lot of the legislation that is contained in the veterans charter. But in the past few years the committee has been examining proposals that were already drafted, upon which it had not been con. suited.

The minister and the government are making a mistake. If we had a standing

committee whose job it would be to watch and follow the trend of veterans' legislation or the necessity for changes, the biggest asset that the minister and the department could have would be 25 or 30 veteran members of this house. They could sit down out of the realm of politics and make a study of what they thought was fair and reasonable, and the minister could check it from time to time. In that way he could be getting a large group of members of this house to share responsibility with him for veterans' legislation, and many times he would find the members of that committee on his side in controversial matters which arise in the house because the average member has not an opportunity to study the material. I refer to such matters as we have been discussing tonight, namely softening up the legislation that prevents departmental officials from making a reasonable decision where there are extenuating circumstances with respect to such questions as rehabilitation credits as part of the estates of persons such as those I have been talking about. There are complaints that cannot be anticipated by the average person who sits down and writes legislation.

Then with respect to the veterans allowance and all these changes that we have been talking about, instead of it just coming up at a moment's notice and all hon. members expressing individual opinions, the committee would have a chance to debate these things through and have a general understanding of them. They could consult with the Legion from time to time, and out of these discussions and deliberations would come recommendations on problems that arise in the country.

As I said when I opened my remarks, this is social legislation for the person who has become handicapped through his war service. There is no finality to it. It is going on, and we might as well realize that the best way of handling it and keeping it within reason is by having study going on all the time by men who are veterans themselves, who are members of the Legion and of the House of Commons, and who would rather work with the minister on finding a solution to these problems than have to fight with him from time to time.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

I have a few matters that I should like to bring up. After listening to the assurance of the hon. member for Cape Breton South that the minister will welcome all the advice we can give him at this time, I am no longer hesitant in taking a little of the time of the committee.

We in this group would like to join with those other hon. members who have urged upon the government the setting up of a permanent standing committee on veterans affairs. At the present time we allow grievances of veterans and grievances of various organizations to pile up. Then after two or three years we set up a committee to deal with those grievances; but in the meantime a certain amount of discontent has grown and even when the committee is set up that resentment continues. We feel that if a standing committee was set up it could make a full review of the grievances of the veterans, and then there would be a better feeling among the veterans' organizations.

I would agree that the veterans' charter provided for a very fine program of veterans' legislation. I would also say that the officials of that department have done all they could to administer it fairly. I know, in so far as I am concerned, I have always felt that the officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs did give every consideration to the cases that I referred to them. By that I do not mean for one minute to say that they always did those things that I wanted them to do. But when they turned me down I did at least feel that they had gone as far as they could within the confines of the act, and that is as far as they can go.

Although the veterans' charter did provide a fine re-establishment set-up for veterans, nevertheless time has gone on, and the time has now come to review that legislation and revise some of it. Unfortunately, when the special committee on veterans affairs has been set up in recent years it has not been allowed to make a general review of veterans' legislation. Invariably it has been tied down by the terms of the reference to deal with specific items; therefore when the veterans' organizations appeared before us requesting that we do this or that, we have had to tell them that our terms of reference permitted us to deal only with specific items. I am sure the minister will agree that this has caused a certain amount of resentment on the part of veterans' organizations.

After the first war we had the department of soldiers civil re-establishment. That was considered to be a temporary department, apparently. It was thought that after a few years most of the veterans' problems would disappear, and as time went on perhaps the department would disappear also; but no one would suggest for one moment that today the Department of Veterans Affairs is a temporary department. For that reason I say we should have a permanent standing committee on veterans affairs, and not just a temporary

Supply-Veterans Affairs one set up as the government may see fit from time to time.

One of the most important pieces of veterans' legislation was the War Veterans Allowance Act. I would call the War Veterans Allowance Act the veterans' last resort. I am now referring to the disabled veteran. If a veteran is unable to obtain a pension owing to some slight technicality within the Pension Act, or if because of the fact that his disability is not attributable to war service or because his disability is of preenlistment origin the request for a pension is turned down, then he has to depend on the war veterans allowance in order to get an income. The important thing to keep in mind in regard to the War Veterans Allowance Act is that only those veterans who saw service in a theatre of actual war are entitled to get that allowance, unless of course they are in receipt of a small pension. We should keep that in mind at all times, because some people think it is something to give to any veteran who gets hard up or is unable to get a job or gets a little bit disabled. After all, any veteran who remained behind in what the soldiers called a "cushy" job is not eligible for the war veterans allowance. He must have seen service. That should always be kept in mind.

There is no doubt that some improvement was made in the act last year. We increased the amount of the allowance by $10 a month for single veterans and by $20 a month for married veterans, but we made no increase in the amount of permissive income over and above the allowance. As a matter of fact we reduced it for married veterans from $250 down to $120. That was due, of course, to the increase in the amount of the allowance. The present ceiling is altogether too low, $720 for a single veteran and $1,200 for a married veteran. It makes it almost impossible for the veteran today to have what you might call a reasonable standard of living, unless he is in a position to qualify under section 4 of the act.

While section 4 may provide quite considerable benefits for a veteran who is able to get a job for a month or two, it is of absolutely no use to the disabled veteran who is not able to work. He cannot come under section 4. Only that veteran who is fortunate enough to be able to get a good job for a short time benefits. He can go on a monthly instead of a yearly basis and, as a result of the money he earns during the month, he will not have his allowance reduced in future months. Section 4 is a good section, and I was sorry to hear that so few veterans have taken advantage of it.

Supply-Veterans Affairs

But, as I said at the time we had that legislation before us, the veteran I am most worried about is the one who is unable to work, and is receiving war veterans allowance. We did very little for him last year. True, we increased the allowance by $10 a month, but we did not raise the ceiling on incomes. Therefore if a veteran happened to be fortunate enough to have a small legacy left to him, or was able to get some form of pension in addition, he was denied the full benefits because of that ceiling.

The Legion filed a brief with the federal committee last year, and I think their brief was generally quite reasonable. They asked that the ceiling be raised from $720 to $1,200 for a single man and from $1,200 to $2,000 for a married man. That is approximately the level of income we have established as the minimum a family or person should have to live on in this country. The exemption in respect of income tax is set at $2,000 for a married man and $1,000 for a single man. I presume when the Minister of Finance placed the exemption at that level he had in mind the fact that a person needed that income in order to be able to live. Therefore no taxation was placed upon individuals with income below those amounts. If that is true of the average Canadian, it must also be true of the veteran. Therefore I think the ceiling on incomes should be raised to at least the level of the exemptions for income tax purposes, in order to bring the veterans up to parity.

Then the Legion also urged an increase in the allowance from $50 to $60 for a single person and from $90 to $120 for a married person. I think that was reasonable, in the light of the heavy increase in the cost of living we have been encountering during the past few years. I am satisfied the government would not be subjected to any embarrassment from the standpoint of public opinion if they were to make these increases. They would have the full force of public opinion behind them if they were to introduce legislation of that kind.

I was interested last year in listening to a certain person in the Department of Veterans Affairs-I have now forgotten his name- make some observations on a subject in which he was interested. I believe it was described as a science and, although I am not quite sure as to the proper word, I believe the science was described as geriatrics. No doubt it has considerable merit in it. However, I have felt some concern in the matter, and in discussing it with other veterans I have heard them express concern, too. They are fearful that that science will be used for the purpose of trying to dig out the old veterans, the ones who are burnt out, in an effort to get them into some kind of employment.

I agree that in some cases that may do some veterans a lot of good. But I am afraid there are other veterans who would like to retire and take it a little easier, but who will feel that they have to go back into some form of employment so they will not be accused of taking the war veterans allowance improperly. I hope departmental officials will be careful not to put undue pressure upon veterans, in the light of this science of geriatrics. As a matter of fact, that is an unfortunate term; it sounds too much like gerrymander.

Then I would raise one other point in connection with war veterans allowances, and that is in connection with the widows of imperials. I think we made a big mistake when we refused to give war veterans allowances to the widows of imperials who have resided in this country for 20 years, but whose husbands died before they had completed 20 years' residence. I find it hard to understand the reason for this procedure.

I can understand not paying war veterans allowance to a widow until she has completed 20 years of residence; but just because her husband had the misfortune to die before he had completed his full 20 years residence in this country seems to me a very peculiar reason for denying that widow the war veterans allowance. That matter should be dealt with next year; I suppose it is too late to do it this year.

Then for a few moments I should like to discuss questions related to the Veterans Land Act, in so far as small holdings are concerned. At present the requirement is that a veteran must buy three acres of land. For a time we lifted that requirement in one section of Ontario and allowed veterans to take small holdings of half an acre. I understand the present requirement, however, is that they must have three acres of land when they build a house.

I have discussed this matter with a number of Veterans Land Act officials in western Canada, and they tell me the picture is greatly complicated. They say they would like to see the three-acre regulation reduced to half an acre, because the requirement that a veteran must buy three acres of land is greatly increasing the cost to him of acquiring a home. Three acres of land can only be had at considerable cost whereas, if the amount were reduced to half an acre, the veteran would have to buy only that much land.

I fully appreciate the original purpose. The idea was that the veteran would have three acres of land and would be able to supplement his income by growing vegetables, and

by using the land in other ways. But we know that what is actually happening is that many of these veterans who have three acres of land are not using it at all. Their land has become a liability on them. They find it difficult to keep it cultivated and stop the weeds from growing, so they will not run foul of the town inspectors, who do not like to see unsightly pieces of land in their vicinity.

I know that out west many of the officials feel it would be a good thing if the provision for three acres were reduced to half an acre. The minister may reply that if that were done it would be made into a housing project. Well, what would be wrong with that? If veterans need homes, and if we can help them to get homes by reducing the requirement to half an acre instead of three acres, I think consideration should be given to this.

There is one other matter I should like to mention in connection with the Pension Act. I would like to see the committee on veterans affairs set up with broad terms of reference so they could review some of the amendments made a few years ago. At one time we made an amendment to section 11 (c) of the act by striking out certain words, because we felt that by so doing we would make the pension available to veterans who had been refused pensions on the ground that their disabilities were of pre-enlistment origin. I should like to know what effect that amendment has had, how many veterans' applications have been reviewed, and how many of those applications have now been granted as a result of that amendment.

Then I would like to see a review of the results of the amendment we made to section 63. That section deals with the benefit of the doubt. We amended the section in order to assure that the veteran did in reality get the full benefit of the doubt. That is another matter I should like to see investigated in order that we may find out whether it is doing the thing we intended it should do. If those two amendments have not accomplished what the committee wanted them to accomplish then I think it is up to the government to provide additional amendments to the legislation in order to assure that every veteran who is really entitled to pension gets the full benefit of the doubt.

In conclusion I again urge the government to give careful consideration to making the veterans' committee a standing committee in order that the various grievances of the veterans may be considered from time to time.

Supply-Veterans Affairs

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, I want to express my disappointment that nothing has been done this session to improve the position of recipients of war veterans allowance. I think that disappointment is shared by all the veterans in Canada. It was hoped that this year there would be some increase in the rate of war veterans allowance. I do not intend to repeat the arguments which have been made by several hon. members who have said that an increase not only is justified but is absolutely essential at this time. I think the increased cost of living is sufficient in itself to show why an increase is required in the rate.

In addition to increasing the rate I should like to see some action taken to raise the ceiling on allowable earnings by recipients of war veterans allowance. I have never been able to understand why a war veterans allowance recipient was limited to the small amount of allowable earnings which has been the case up to date. It would seem to me only reasonable that he should be permitted to have an income up to the minimum at which income tax is imposed. The fact that he is limited to the extent he is causes great difficulty to these recipients of war veterans allowances.

I would say that the majority of the cases with which I have come in personal contact during the past two or three years have been due to the fact that over a certain period of time these recipients of war veterans allowance have made a certain amount of money. Generally the amount was not very much, but the man might not report it or forget to report it or something like that. Eventually it would be discovered that he had made this money and his war veterans allowance would be cut off, or a certain amount would be deducted from his monthly cheque. The result was that in many cases the war veteran would be left in a desperate situation, where it was practically impossible for him to live.

All that suffering, all those difficulties could be overcome by lifting the ceiling. There would be no cost to the public treasury in doing that. It is not as if this would necessitate paying out more money. The lifting of the ceiling would not cost the taxpayer any more money, but it certainly would make things much more pleasant for the recipients of war veterans allowance. They should be allowed sufficient to permit a bare living standard, which is not possible at the present time for many of them.

Several speakers have urged that a standing committee on veterans affairs be set up, and that is another move which I see no

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Supply-Veterans Affairs reason to oppose. Arguments in favour of it have been given at least twice tonight, and possibly more often. There is certainly more reason for having a standing committee on veterans affairs than to have many other standing committees.

If we had a standing committee on veterans affairs it would be possible to study these veterans problems and as a result the general position of the veteran might be improved. It would be easier to have changes made to improve the legislation and regulations. Once more I add my request to that of other hon. members that a standing committee on veterans affairs be set up.

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Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Cape Breton South presented the case for this group with his usual eloquence, logic and conviction. I may say that he was chosen by this group for one particular reason, and after considerable thought. We consider him to be a typical old soldier. I make no apology for having a few words to say on the first item of these estimates, as a member of this house and as a veteran, on behalf of my comrades, their dependents and those associated with them.

First of all I want to thank the minister and his parliamentary assistant for the prompt consideration they have given to any matter I have brought to their attention during their term of office. Before proceeding to make the brief remarks I want to make, I must pay my annual tribute to the officials of the department in Ottawa, at district headquarters and in the field. When I say that I express not only my own opinion but that of the Legion branches in my district, who have asked me to express their appreciation of the service rendered by the administrator in British Columbia and his officials and the field officers who visit our district.

I want also to express my appreciation of the courtesy and consideration I have received from the chairman of the pension commission and his associates. As the hon. member for Cape Breton South said, we do not always get what we want or what we think the veteran is entitled to, but I am quite confident that in administering the law the officials do the best they can for the veteran concerned.

Several speakers have indicated the necessity for a standing committee on veterans affairs, and I want to support that proposal which has been made repeatedly in the house by a number of hon. members on this side and by the hon. member for Fraser Valley and several others on the other side. I think the hon. member for Cape Breton South gave good reasons why- that should be done

at the next session of parliament. We shall look forward to it. In my opinion the need for a standing committee on veterans affairs grows greater every year.

I support the proposals made to the government on November 12 by the Canadian Legion. I have spoken in this connection previously this session, and I shall not repeat my remarks at any length. But I do want to emphasize, as other speakers have, the proposals in connection with war veterans allowance, that a single person be granted $60 a month and a married person $120 a month. I see the need for that in my contact with many veterans and their dependents in my constituency, and through the correspondence I have received. I have such a high opinion of the responsible nature of the Canadian Legion that I am quite confident these figures would not have been suggested had they not been arrived at after a thorough consideration of the cost of living and the ability of the country to stand this expense.

I want also to support the request of the Canadian Legion for an increase in the permissive income to $1,200 a year for single recipients and $2,000 a year for married recipients. If the government will not consider immediately raising the rate of the allowance, an increase in the permissive income would help greatly. It would give many veterans the opportunity to earn a little extra income and to take advantage of a greater proportion of the old age pension. All those who have spoken this evening have rather emphasized that angle, and that is the angle that I find stressed at the field level in the constituencies. I have had all kinds of people say to me that if the permissive income were only somewhat higher they could get along very well indeed. I think that would be a very good first move on the part of the government to make it possible for these people to live on a decent standard.

I should also like to mention particularly the Legion's proposal that there should be no recovery of overpayments unless fraud is established. I know the officials of the war veterans allowance board are most humane, and particularly in this type of case give every consideration to veteran recipients. I know that because I had occasion to bring several unfortunate cases to the attention of the board where, owing to force of circumstances, the veteran's wife or the veteran felt impelled to go out and earn a few hundred dollars to educate children and do things of that sort. When that is either admitted or discovered the veteran is required to repay the amount. I must say that the war veterans

allowance board has been most fair and has only asked for a small repayment each month in order to lighten the load as far as possible, but I think the Legion is on very sound ground when it asks that recovery of overpayments only be required when fraud is established.

When veterans earn more than they should it is because they are forced to do so by reason of unusual circumstances which arise, but I am not going to take the time to deal with that tonight. When the question of repayment comes up it produces quite unnecessary hardship. The Legion's proposals have been supported by members of the house, members of the veterans affairs committee and I think by the people generally. I believe that general public support for the proposals of the Canadian Legion has a far wider basis than the veterans, their dependents, immediate relatives and so on. I find that there is also general support in the press. The hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra will correct me if I am wrong, but I think I am correct in saying that the Vancouver Sun is a strong advocate of increasing the war veterans allowance.

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Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

That is right.

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Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I have also seen articles in other papers to the same effect. I want to read a brief editorial that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen of April 2 which I think expresses in very good terms the attitude of the public toward this question at the present time. The editorial is headed "Inadequate War Veterans Allowances" and reads as follows:

When income is restricted by a means test, an allowance of $50 a month can barely ensure subsistence in these days. Yet $50 is the maximum granted under the War Veterans Allowance Act to qualified veterans widows who have attained the age of 55. The dominion council of the organization maintained by these widows has asked the federal government to raise the maximum to $60 a month. The request deserves sympathetic consideration. It seems only right, moreover, that the health services available to veterans on the allowance should be available to their widows.

The changes in the allowance legislation requested by the widows, and proposed by the Canadian Legion last spring, are not drastic. Nor would their cost be great. The Legion wants the maximum allowance raised to $60 for a single recipient and $120 for married recipients. Total income permissible under the means test, it proposes, should be $1,200 in the one case and $2,000 in the other. On reaching the age of 70 the veteran could have the benefit of most or all his federal pensions. These changes would give effective relief to many who are now in need.

The war veterans allowance was designed originally to assist veterans who at the age of 60 found themselves unable to carry on their former occupations. In effect, it was an accelerated old age pension for veterans who became prematurely aged. Since the federal pension is now paid as of right to all citizens at 70 the argument is sometimes

Supply-Veterans Affairs

advanced that, instead of the allowance, this pension should be paid without a means test to veterans whose income earning ability is deemed to have become impaired at an earlier age than 70.

I think the next paragraph is particularly good.

But veterans on the allowance may receive a maximum greater than the pension, and they have hospitalization privileges as well. At least until Canada provides a more generous federal pension and establishes federal-provincial health insurance, liberalization of the War Veterans Allowance Act would seem preferable to any fundamental change.

I think that is a very good suggestion. It is along the lines of the suggestions advanced by other speakers this evening. If the government would only see fit to raise the permissible income it would make it much easier for a great number of veterans and their dependents. I want to read a resolution adopted unanimously by the veterans affairs committee on June 5, 1952. It was as follows:

The committee commends to the government their sympathetic study of the needs and requirements of recipients of war veterans allowance, keeping in mind the recommendations of the veterans organizations in that respect and particularly with regard to permissive income.

I hope the government will give further consideration to the proposals of the Legion, particularly the question of permissive income. That is all I have to say at this time. I have a few remarks to make on the Veterans' Land Act items, and I now conclude because I think I have said enough.

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Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

Daniel Aloysius Riley

Liberal

Mr. Riley:

Mr. Chairman, I have listened with a great deal of interest to various speakers this evening placing before the committee problems which are peculiar to the veterans and which are deserving of serious consideration by the committee. I have run across a problem that has arisen in the past few months with respect to veterans that has burned itself into my mind. I should like to place it before the committee tonight. I am not a veteran, but during the war years I worked very closely with veterans. For two years I was solicitor for the Veterans' Land Act for the maritime provinces. During that time I learned to admire the veterans very much. I worked desk to desk and shoulder to shoulder with men who had suffered pain ever since the first world war, who would come into the office in the morning and carry out their duties throughout the day without complaint; yet those of us who were working with them knew that all during the day these men were suffering pain.

The conclusion developed in my mind that many veterans who were casualties of the first war and many of those who were casualties of the second war had probably done more themselves to rehabilitate themselves successfully into civilian life. After having undergone sacrifices and suffering that their fellow

Supply-Veterans Affairs citizens will never realize, these men had re-entered civilian life successfully and had put themselves in the position where they did not have to lean too heavily on the government or their fellow citizens.

Recently I was advised that a review of the different positions held by the various employees of the department was being made with a view to cutting down the number of personnel. I realize, and I think every veteran and probably every other citizen of the country will agree with me, that the Department of Veterans Affairs has done a remarkable job since the second world war to assist veterans to rehabilitate themselves into society. I also realize that the Department of Veterans Affairs is one whose responsibilities are lessening as the years pass by.

In 1945 the Department of Veterans Affairs had grave responsibilities. A large number of veterans needed assistance; but as succeeding years have gone by the number of such veterans has lessened. Well, this year apparently it was determined that there should be a review of the responsibilities of the staff. As a result of that review, which was carried on by the department and the civil service commission, it was determined that there were certain positions in the department where the responsibilities had lessened to the point that numbers of the staff were downgraded or, if not down-graded, their remuneration was lessened to some degree.

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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Some were up-graded.

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LIB

Daniel Aloysius Riley

Liberal

Mr. Riley:

The minister says that some of them were up-graded. Well, I accept that, too, but I am talking about one particular type of veteran. He is the man who came out of the second world war suffering from wounds, a pension case, and in many instances he was an amputee case. Those of us who have had close contact with amputees of the second world war, for instance those in my own age group, have found a great deal to admire in those men. They lay in hospital beds for months. They had to come back into society minus one limb, minus two limbs; they had to fit themselves back among their fellow citizens as normal human beings. Those men had been away from their associations for many years. They bore not only physical scars but mental scars; and the mental habits they had formed during the years of the war had to be completely changed when they came back into the associations of civilian life.

Well, those men came out of the hospitals and, with the assistance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, were able to fit themselves back into civilian jobs. Many jobs were open to them, some of them being government jobs.

It is true that they received pensions, but the pensions came to them as a matter of right. They settled down and bought homes or built homes, and they carried on in their particular positions. Some of them, as I say, were in government jobs, and some of them were in the Department of Veterans Affairs. They carried on for a number of years after the war in their new homes, established families and conducted themselves as normal members of the community. All of a sudden they were met with this decision by the department for which they worked; they were told that the department was going to lower their standard of living, in some instances by as much as $500 a year.

Well, I suggest to the minister and to the ministers of other departments where this may happen, that the people of Canada will not begrudge to any veteran-and particularly to a veteran who is an amputee-the salary which he has come to earn by successfully rehabilitating himself into society. They will not begrudge him that salary which he has come to earn by assiduously applying himself to the particular tasks which are assigned to him by the department.

If it is necessary to carry out some measure of economy in any government department I suggest they leave the amputees alone, because there is a lot to be admired in those men. If there is to be any question of economy let it be by perhaps abolishing some position that a veteran has filled successfully for years, and let them put that man in a position in another department where he will be able to exercise his talents in a manner that will enable him to carry on as he did in his former department. Let him carry on as a member of society who is deserving not only of the ordinary credit which is due him but of a great deal more credit because of the tremendous sacrifices he has made and the tremendous amount of courage which he has demonstrated on behalf of the people of the country.

Recently I saw one of these amputees at a dinner. He was a normal sort of fellow who had a great deal of ability. He had successfully rehabilitated himself in a civilian position and he has risen to a position of responsibility whch would be the envy of any young man his age. After the dinner I saw the young man apply himself to a game of table tennis. During the course of that game he fell down about five times but, after falling down, he bounced back to his feet very quickly. Having seen that demonstration, in my mind there will always be associated with that man a particular name. I shall think of him as Mr. Guts. There are a lot

of amputees in the government service who could be described as Mr. Guts.

I think when it comes time for the government to practise economy in respect of particular positions which these men have successfully carried out for a period of ten years, exceptions should be made. Great care should be exercised by heads of departments in order to ensure that the standard of living which these men have achieved through their courage, their perseverance, and their talents should not be disturbed in any way. I do not think any citizens of the country, any good citizens, will criticize any department of government for making sure that these men have the opportunity of not only successfully rehabilitating themselves as they have done but of continuing that rehabilitation throughout their lives.

I ask the minister particularly, since his estimates are before the house, and particularly since there are a number of amputees in his department who have been affected by this review of personnel, to give some assurance to the citizens of the country as well as to the amputee veterans that their rehabilitation is not going to be disturbed.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I want to add a word on one point only, the amount of permitted earnings. Before commenting on that matter I just wish to associate myself with what others have said about the efficiency and sympathetic understanding of the officials of the department as I have run across them. They do seem to me-and this is particularly so of those who are advocating the cases of veterans and veterans' wives with claims-to put their very best into it.

The point I want to speak about is purely the question of the ceiling on permitted earnings. As the hon. member for Calgary East pointed out earlier, that ceiling could be changed without costing the government of Canada one dollar. I have not heard any reasons given against this being done. If we were in a time of low employment I can well imagine that the argument might be made, although it may not be very convincing, that we must not let people work beyond a certain point because they would be crowding other people out of the labour market.

I do not think anyone will suggest that argument lies now. If it does not lie now, what conceivable argument is there for not changing the ceiling? I have not been able to think of it. No one I have talked to has been able to think of it. Unless the minister has some secret reason that has not yet been disclosed, I suggest not merely that this is an injustice but that it is an injustice that can be remedied right now before this session 68108-322

Supply-Veterans Affairs ends, because it will not cost one dollar to do it.

The hardships involved in the cases that come to our attention are heart-rending. What is perhaps a more practical reason why something should be done is that I think it must be bad for the morale of people who would like to go and earn money, but who find that by doing so they themselves get no advantage. It is all very well to say that they should go and do work anyway, regardless of whether or not they are going to benefit from it. We know that is not likely to happen; and if it does not happen, it seems to me there are many reasons I can think of against this ceiling on earned income, and no reason that I have yet heard given for it.

I wish to reiterate this. If the minister accepts that view, or if he is not able to controvert that view, I suggest there is no possible reason why that ceiling should not be raised before this session is prorogued.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. Bryce:

Mr. Chairman, this is not the ideal time to make a speech, at 9.30 on Saturday evening. I am not going to make a speech at this time. We are now late with the estimates. I think they should have been brought down earlier. However, we may get them down earlier another year.

My deskmate has been referred to as a typical old soldier. He has fairly well covered what I was going to say. Perhaps he has said it much better than.it could have been said by me. While I did not know him when he was a young man in France, I think he would have been one of those fellows who were extremely good in the line and that he would have been a real comrade behind the lines. I take a great deal of pleasure in associating with him here in the House of Commons.

As I said, other hon. members have fairly well covered most of the grievances shared by veterans today, and I do not want to repeat what they have said. There is, however, one thing to which I want to draw the minister's attention again; I refer to the means test. As to these men who are my own age, we went to war in 1914; and when we went away everybody said that nothing would be too good for us when we came back. I am one of the lucky ones. I know a great many who are not in good shape. If that means test were taken away it would be of great benefit to them. I ask the minister to see what he can do about it. When the Minister of Finance brought down that budget, making provision for some of the money that he gave away, I suggested that if he had worked in co-operation with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, a little bit of

Supply-Veterans Affairs that money might have been spared in order to do away with this means test.

I support the rest of my colleagues on this side of the house in their contention that we should have a permanent veterans affairs committee before which any man who has served in the forces would have a right to get his member of parliament to lay his grievances. I think it would be a good thing to make that a permanent committee.

I do not want to make a speech. The correspondence I have from the branches of the Legion all over Canada, not only just in Manitoba, makes me believe that there are grievances everywhere. I am going to read just this one letter which is typical, Mr. Chairman. This is from Sanford, Manitoba and it reads as follows:

We, the Sanford branch No. 171, of the Canadian Legion, B.E.S.L., at a meeting held on April 28, 1953, passed the following resolution:

"Whereas the present veterans allowances are inadequate,

Be it hereby resolved that we recommend to the Minister of Veterans Affairs that the war veterans allowance be increased from $40 per month for single and $70 per month for married persons to $60 per month for single and $120 per month for married persons, and also that the total permissible income ceiling for those in receipt of war veterans allowances be raised to $1,200 per year in the case of a single man, and $2,000 per year in the case of a married man."

We respectfully submit the above for your consideration and hope that you will use all the powers at your command to ensure its adoption.

It is signed by H. R. McDowell, president, and E. W. Manness, secretary. I have many of these communications. I am reading only one because they are all much the same.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Lewis Elston Cardiff

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cardiff:

Mr. Chairman, like the hon. member who preceded me, I do not wish to make a speech; but I should like to make a few remarks with regard to these veterans. I want to support the brief presented by the Canadian Legion. The Legion proposals certainly deserve our wholehearted support. They should receive further consideration from the minister and his parliamentary assistant, and I hope that consideration will take place at an early date.

I am one of those who came into the house in 1940. For the first five years 1 attended this house, at least 75 per cent of the work I had to do was for veterans. I take second place to no member of the House of Commons in regard to what I have tried to do for the veterans. They deserve all the assistance they have ever received, and they are not getting too much assistance now. I think the legislation has been good. I think it should have been considered again this year at this session of parliament, and that the benefits should have been stepped up as was done

last year. Had that been done, I think it would have helped everyone considerably.

I think the veterans are our first citizens, regardless of everyone else. As the hon. member for Fraser Valley said, we owe our very existence to the veterans of the last war. Had it not been for them it would not be our privilege to sit here tonight and talk about veterans' affairs.

I should like to join with the hon. member for Royal and the other hon. members who have already spoken. I am not going to reiterate what they have said, but I should just like to say this. The veteran over 70 years of age should, in my opinion, be allowed to receive his old age pension as well as his war veterans allowance. I think that procedure is only fair. A great many of these men who saw active service now find themselves, at the age of 60, to be at least 70. I think their experiences added ten years to the lives of all those men. As a matter of fact, if the old age pension could be made available for veterans at 60 they should get it. If any people in this country should get it, it is the veterans. A lot of them are broken down and not able to work. Therefore they should get the old age pension as well as their allowance.

The veterans' committee should have been set up again this year. Actually it should have been continued through the years. For several years we had a veterans' committee composed of member veterans of the first war, which was only right. I do not happen to be a veteran, but I have followed the committee's activities very closely because I am so much in association with veterans. If I am here in the next parliament I shall look forward to seeing the committee set up again so the veterans will have a chance to turn to the committee and make their proposals. The committee can then fight it out and report to the minister and his assistant, and in that way the veterans will perhaps get better treatment at their hands.

I do not think I need to say anything more, although I may have something to say on the different items as they are called. I have had a lot to do with the Veterans' Land Act. Because of the fact that I earned all the money I ever made from the soil I consider that I have some knowledge of land value. I have been often called in when a veteran has wanted a certain piece of property and the valuator has turned it down. I have a case pending right now that I took up with the assistant just last week. Here is a case where the valuator has not assessed the property as it should have been assessed. I do not suppose the minister or his assistant know exactly what the property contains. I am

going to tell him right now what is on the property. There are 16 cherry trees, four pear trees, five apple trees, a raspberry patch, a gooseberry patch, currant bushes, a good garden, two acres of land, a very good barn 30 x 40 feet which needs a little repair, and three other buildings, one of which is a garage with a workshop in it. I cannot tell what the other two are, I think a chicken house and some other little building beside the house. It is a very good house. I was not inside it because the day I was there the lady who owns the house was away and the door was locked.

They tell me that the inside of the house is almost perfect. It is all redecorated. There is a brand new roof on the house, which is guaranteed for 10 years. This property is right inside the town of Goderich. It is within at least half a mile, if not closer, of a brand new high school. It is within a quarter of a mile of the new arena, the best arena in that part of our country. This veteran is a married man with two in his family. The location is perfect. I do not know any reason why that property should not be given to that particular veteran. He is a man who has worked for four years with the same boss. He is an electric welder by trade, a steady man. He does odd jobs around after work on which he makes some money, and he feels that he could take care of the property very well. At the present time he has an option on the property. All he needs is some assistance from the minister and his assistant. I hope due consideration will be given to this man.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (Si. John's West):

First of all I should like to express my appreciation of the general courtesy I have experienced in dealing with officials of this department. I do not think I can use words strong enough to say how gracious they have always been in any matters I have brought to their attention, and how pleased I have been also when appearing before the board. There is no doubt about it that the legislation with which we are concerned tonight is excellent, and every facility seems to be provided to give a soldier a fair hearing and, if he is not satisfied, then a fair appeal.

Like other hon. members I have had requests from the Canadian Legion, Newfoundland command in this case, asking for an increase in the allowance and also an increase in the ceiling, and I have been asked to draw to the attention of the minister the effect of the legislation which was passed last year. Section 4 was supposed to give a recipient a chance to accept temporary employment; but it has been brought to my 68108-322i

Supply-Veterans Affairs attention that up to November only one person had shown any interest in that section, and nobody had qualified under it. I do not know whether the situation has changed since.

Then it was pointed out to me that a number of veterans find it very difficult to exist on the allowance and would like to accept part-time work but they cannot do it, since under the regulations a recipient may not accept seasonal employment or work on which he was engaged prior to qualifying for war veterans allowance. I have been told that means that a disabled fisherman may not fish or a carpenter work at his trade. It also appears that some veterans are afraid that if they go and do temporary work under section 4, remembering the difficulties they had to get the war veterans allowance in the first place, they might not get back on it again, so they are discouraged from trying.

Then the Legion supplied me with a number of cases which I shall refer to as briefly as possible, where the allowance was insufficient and the people had to apply to the Legion for assistance. There was one case of a man 67 years of age, with a wife and five children, who received $90 a month and had to pay $15 a month for rent. He had to exist on $75 a month. Since he was a fisherman he would have been able to increase his income from fishing, but the ceiling was so low that he would not be able to do very much of that.

The next case was that of a widow who1 had to pay $25 a month rent for her home and had only $25 left for the house and to pay expenses. These two people live in my constituency. The third case is that of a widow with five children who received $90 a month. There are two other cases from other constituencies. One is a married man with a wife and five children. He is receiving $90 a month. He has the Military Medal and bar. Another case is that of a labourer with a wife and ten children. He was in receipt of a war pension of $24.50 a month and the veterans allowance was cut down to $74.50.

I am quite sure we must all recognize that these are hard cases, and that the Canadian Legion has had to come to their assistance. They suggest that there may be more who have not applied for assistance but who are qualified to do so. I hope the minister will therefore bear in mind these representations that have come from all quarters of the house, and that this important matter will be given every consideration.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

I do not propose repeating anything that has been said heretofore except

5102 HOUSE OF

Supply-Veterans Affairs to support the statements made by others concerning the war veterans allowance. I am in agreement with what they have said, and I support the statements made concerning the necessity for a standing committee on veterans affairs.

The issue I wish to raise would be more properly considered by a committee on veterans affairs, because it involves a considerable amount of detail. But in the absence of the committee, I am compelled to bring this matter to the attention of the committee of supply. I do it with some reluctance in view of the lateness of the session and of the hour, but I have been waiting for months to raise this particular issue, because an investigation should be conducted concerning other matters that are related in nature to the particular issue that I have in mind.

What I wish to refer to is the operations of the Canadian pension commission, and I do not do so in any spirit of carping criticism. I have nothing but respect for the chairman of that commission. No person has given me more courteous attention than he has. I have nothing but respect for the commissioners themselves, although I may differ with them in my opinions on some occasions. However, they have a right to their views just as I have a right to mine.

I believe a review of the work of the commission is essential, and could be done properly through the committee on veterans affairs. For example, referring to the report of the department for 1952, 1 find at page 69 mention of appeal boards, and I note in a rather short paragraph it is indicated that there were 2,004 cases heard by the appeal boards of the commission during the year for which this is the report. Then I notice that appeal board hearings, on leave to reopen, were also heard in 282 cases. But there is no further information as to the nature of the cases before the appeal boards and their disposition.

I rather feel that the appeal boards require guidance from parliament in connection with the interpretation of the act, or its revision, so they may have greater freedom in making their findings. We cannot here suggest that the findings of appeal boards should be altered. Appeal board decisions are final and conclusive, and based upon their interpretation of the act. But if those findings are creating certain injustices, as in my opinion they are, then it is the duty of the House of Commons to take another look at the act and submit the appropriate amendments thereto.

In particular I find that in the cases that have come to my notice applicants lose out because of that phrase in section 11 which contains the expression "arose out of or was directly connected with such military service". On that phrase appeal boards feel that they cannot, in many instances, find in favour of applicants.

I have been disturbed also, in cases with which I have been connected, when I have found that the benefit of the doubt clause has not been extended to the extent I thought parliament intended. I am informed that benefit of the doubt enters into almost every case which comes before the appeal boards. The case which I propose to give as an example shows no indication that the benefit of the doubt clause was used at all.

I have to curtail my remarks in this connection, but I must point up what I am saying by drawing attention to one particular case which, I believe, is typical of many others. In my opinion, if there has not been a miscarriage of justice in the case I shall now mention, at least full justice has not been done to the widow applicant. It seems to me that in this particular case the intent and will of the parliament of Canada has not been fully carried out. Here we have an innocent widow and children suffering as a result of the death of the father while he was still in the army. It never occurred to me that it was the intention of parliament to visit upon widows and children penalties for errors or mistakes on the part of military authorities. I think in this instance there was an error on the part of military authorities.

I have full permission of the widow to state all the facts in the case. Therefore I have no hesitation in drawing to the attention of the minister the case of Corporal Harvey K. MacAulay, deceased, No. SH/26330. This was a case where the man was killed in a highway traffic accident in the city of Winnipeg in the year 1950. He had served throughout the second world war as a member of the Fort Garry Horse, with credit to himself and to his regiment. He answered the call of duty at the end of the war and, as a veteran, remained in the army. Many were asked to do this but found they could not. This man did.

At the time of the accident he was in charge of a military vehicle, and while in charge of it became involved in a highway traffic accident as a result of which he lost his life. An appeal board has considered the case and has found that the accident did not arise out of service, there being no compulsion on the part of the deceased to use the jeep. While

authority was granted to him to use the vehicle, this was not a military order. The appeal board, before which I appeared asking for leave to reopen the case, found upon reviewing all the available evidence that they were unable to establish that any degree of compulsion attended the act, and that the corporal was using the service jeep for his personal use.

Well, there is an inference there that army personnel are permitted to borrow military vehicles for their personal use. I do not know whether the Department of Veterans Affairs has brought this to the attention of the Department of National Defence; but, if not, I draw it to their attention right now. There is an inference that military personnel may borrow vehicles. May an army private or a corporal borrow a jeep or lorry? Is it permissible for an airman to borrow an aeroplane, or for a naval rating to borrow a ship for personal use? If so, it is something that was unfamiliar to me during the course of many years of experience with the services.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

What about horses?

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

May I call it ten o'clock?

Item stands.

Progress reported.

Topic:   IRRIGATION
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

On Monday we shall take up Senate amendments to Bill 334, and then Bill 367, an amendment to the Criminal Code. Then we shall take up estimates of the departments of veterans affairs, finance, transport, mines and technical surveys and post office, with the hope that we might be able to arrange late on Monday for some form of abridgement of the dinner hour so we can begin the final work in order to close the session at the earliest possible moment, consonant with doing public business correctly.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Permalink

At ten o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. [The following items were passed in committee of supply]:


DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS

May 9, 1953