May 11, 1953

PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

The minister said a moment ago that I was arguing this case on the floor of the House of Commons, and appealing to the House of Commons against the ruling of the pension commission. I did no such thing. I used that case as an example to show what might result from decisions of the board. I was not appealing from the ruling of the pension commission.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Don't use your finger, please.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink

Item agreed to. 531. To provide for the cost of administration of Veterans' Land Act: soldier settlement and British family settlement, $4,651,087.


CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. Bryce:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to bring before the committee and the minister a problem I have discussed before on two occasions, namely the Veterans' Land Act settlement near Winnipeg. It is a difficult matter, and concerns the septic disposal systems which have been installed at that settlement.

Last year the minister was good enough to have something done about this, and I thank him for what he did. He arranged to have some of the systems taken up, but these veterans are still not quite satisfied. Some of those systems that were taken up were found to be faulty in construction. I am pleased to say that the department fixed them and they have worked satisfactorily since. I know the minister has had a petition from these young fellows, and I should like now to quote one paragraph from the letter they wrote:

We fully realize that maintenance plays a very important part in the successful operation of a septic disposal system, but may we point out that it is impossible to keep it operational when It has not been constructed properly. By this we refer you to the previous letter we submitted and photographs of constructional defects found in all of the three fields we inspected.

Supply-Veterans Affairs

I have the photographs here which I showed the minister last year.

When we contracted to purchase these small holdings we were under the impression that they were to he fully modern and that the Veterans' Land Act itself was to assist returning men. In our case, in order to have a modern dwelling it necessitates the complete relaying of our septic fields, which we are financially unable to do.

I know the settlement quite well, and I know that certain parts are fairly low and there will be trouble in wet weather. I have just one question to ask. If any of these systems go wrong in the future and are taken up and construction found to be faulty, will the veterans affairs people put them right?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Mutch:

The answer is yes. While I am answering that, may I refer also to a remark made by the hon. member a moment ago. As he knows, an investigation was made of the septic tank fields in St. Vital and Charles-wood and in only one instance, that one in Charleswood, was it discovered that a field was faulty in construction and had not been laid in accordance with the specifications. That field was relaid. Although there was some doubt in the minds of the inspectors as to whether this field had been damaged inadvertently after being laid, it was repaired.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. Bryce:

I am sure the veterans will be glad to hear that if there is any fault found with the system the government will stand behind it and make good.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Mutch:

If there has been faulty construction.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

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

Mr. Bryce:

If some mistake was made when the field was laid. I have photographs here which show that they were faulty but have since been corrected. I am glad that was done, because I do not think these boys should have to pay for something which they did not get. I shall not delay the committee any more. I know there will be trouble with this low-lying ground in wet weather, and the Manitoba health authorities will be right there on top of it.

Many hon. members have been commending the department and handing out bouquets. I am not going to hand out a lot Of bouquets, but I do not think I have ever been negligent in saying thanks to the minister and his assistant and his officers when they do anything for me.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

I have a question which I have asked on a number of previous occasions. Can the department give consideration to allowing veterans who have small holdings which have been taken into municipalities to sell part of their land in order to help in the payment of the taxes which have gone up so greatly? It is almost impossible for many of these men to pay these taxes. Part of their holdings

could be sold and the money obtained from the sale turned over to the department to help pay for the property.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

The present policy is to permit a veteran to sell a portion of his holding as long as he does not reduce the area below what is required by a veteran seeking establishment under the act at the present time.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

That is all right if the veteran is outside a city, but when his holding is taken into the city he must pay for sidewalks and other local improvements. I submit that the veteran should be allowed to sell a portion of his holding under those circumstances. I understand that if he is in receipt of pension he may sell off some of his holding as long as he retains the house in which he lives.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

That is so where the veteran is at least a 50 per cent pensioner and unable to work. It is felt that it would not be quite fair to allow a veteran to subdivide his holding and retain an acreage smaller than that required to be taken by another veteran who wants to settle there.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

The department would get the money and it would certainly help the veteran.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, I want to bring to the attention of the minister a matter that is of serious concern to a number of veterans in my constituency. I am sure the minister will agree with me when I say that I always talk briefly, reasonably and with common sense. The matter I wish to bring to his attention relates to the reduction of the acreage of small holdings.

When the acreage was raised from half an acre to three acres in most cases, there were hundreds of veterans in my constituency who were denied the opportunity of taking up small holdings under the Veterans' Land Act. This is a particularly serious problem in the district in which I live because of the topography and the shortage of land around Nelson, Trail and some other centres because of the increasing industrial development in the whole area. Because of these circumstances, year after year I have urged the department to give consideration to making exceptions in the particular circumstances that exist in my constituency.

This is of such serious concern that at every meeting of the West Kootenay zone council of the Canadian Legion during the past three or four years a resolution has been passed urging a reduction in the acreage to half an acre. It is a matter that has

caused lengthy debate and serious protest. The boys have asked me to bring this matter to the minister's attention again, and I am doing it now as briefly as possible.

What I cannot understand, Mr. Chairman, is the reason behind this raising of the acreage from half an acre to three acres. I think it is three acres in the majority of cases, although in some circumstances it is reduced to 1-6 acres and so on. I do not understand the reason. There does not seem to be any logic in it. Surely it is just denying the benefits of an excellent act to a large number of veterans.

In my opinion that section of the Veterans Land Act is the best housing scheme in Canada. Many veterans in my district have had an opportunity to take advantage of it.

I am sure the minister's officials will inform him that there are some of the finest small holding settlements in Canada right in the constituency of Kootenay West. It is a treat to visit these boys and find out what is being done. But I urge that consideration be given again to the pleas of these veterans-it is not only in my district, but I understand it also applies to other districts in Canada-to have this acreage reduced to half an acre where it is impossible to obtain any larger area of land and where on that account hundreds of veterans are being denied an opportunity of taking advantage of the act.

Just before going on to one other pet subject of mine, I want to compliment the department on the construction schools that were put into operation in Kootenay West last year. I think three schools were held, largely owing to the fact that the director visited the district and saw the need. All classes were well attended. The instructors were excellent. There was great interest among the men who derived a great deal of benefit. I understand they were taught to read plans in a rough way, to prepare a site, to assemble material, to erect a building in order, and to perform certain more or less rudimentary carpentry work. In any event, all those who took that course told me that it was an excellent one and that they hope the department will, in the future, run similar schools when other men take advantage of this section of the act. It is an excellent idea. The Canadian Legion in my district and the veterans who attended asked me to express to the minister and his officials their sincere appreciation for the operation of those schools in the district last year.

I have another pet peeve, and I think the minister may know what it is. It is not only my peeve but it is the peeve of the 68108-325

Supply-Veterans Affairs Canadian Legion in my district. Resolutions have been passed repeatedly at zone councils. I refer to the reduction of the Veterans' Land Act administration staff in the Kootenay district. We are tired of being the tail of the Okanagan dog. We are an extremely important district. I want it to be understood that, in making that criticism, we are making no criticism of the local officials. The services of the local officials have been commented upon by favourable resolutions at various veteran meetings, but they are simply overburdened with work and are unable to keep up with it. Moreover, the settlement in the area, as the minister will find if he looks the matter up, is increasing every year.

Here is the situation. You have two field officers and a man in charge of housing. The office in Nelson is open one day a week. Veterans may have to drive 150 miles. If it is not convenient to be there on Monday- I think that is the day on which it is open -they are not able to go ahead with their application or attend to their business. You cannot blame the field men. They are out in the field trying to keep up with the work. In fact it is impossible for them to keep up with the work. As I said before, and I think the director will bear me out in this, the applications are increasing daily.

When one makes an argument in cases like this, I think it is a good thing to bring concrete evidence in support of it. I intend to do that by reading two letters I have received from a very responsible veteran who is a competent pioneer farmer, a land appraiser by profession who is considered to be one of the best in the interior. In fact he is employed periodically by some of the insurance companies to appraise land and give them an opinion as to the value of the property for mortgages and so on. I read this letter:

Dear Mr. Herridge:

I am enclosing copies of a letter which I am today passing in to the Legion. I think you will find the letter self-explanatory. As far as I recall, there are about fourteen or fifteen veterans affected in a similar manner along the north shore. Two others, Mr. Charley Noakes of Balfour and Mr. A. Merz of Queens Bay have also made written complaints to the Legion at Nelson on the same subject.

As a matter of fact, the official survey of the constructed power line was made twelve months ago by B.C. land surveyor, Boyd Affleck. At that time survey stakes were set where the power line crossed each property. There was no reason therefore why an easement report could not have been completed any time after that date, and a claim for compensation filed with the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company.

With the usual spring rush at the V.L.A. it is conceivable that the matter will drift on for more months unless pressure is brought to bear. The point is that veterans on these V.L.A. properties are being placed at a disadvantage as compared with

Supply-Veterans Affairs their civilian neighbours, something which I am quite sure was never intended.

Please understand that this letter implies no criticism of Mr. Cooper. He is working at high pressure all the time, and in the summer puts in long hours, . . .

Then I just want to read the letter to the Legion as evidence of the need for additional staff. I might say that I think it was most unfair that the extremely competent senior official of the Veterans' Land Act department who was then in Nelson at that time was laid off. I am not alone in that sentiment. I have the support of all the Legion branches and a good number of the people in the community, including business people. This letter is addressed to the secretary-manager, Canadian Legion, at Nelson. It reads as follows:

Dear Sir:

For some months past the Nelson branch, in company with other branches of the Legion in West Kootenay, has been pressing the Veterans' Land Act administration to provide additional staff for Nelson district, in order that efficient service may be provided for veterans in this area. It is realized that in order to press such a request, concrete examples of inadequate service must be provided. The purpose of this letter is to cite such a case.

In January of 1951 the V.L.A. granted authority to the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company to construct a right of way for a power line across various V.L.A. properties along the north shore in the Nelson district. It was agreed that proper compensation would be made by the company to the veterans concerned, through the V.L.A., when the line was completed, and damage to and loss of value in respect of each property could be properly assessed.

The right of way was slashed in the early spring of 1951 and the power line installed shortly after. It is now two years since this was done and civilian owners of properties affected have long since been paid compensation, but not so the veterans concerned. The explanation offered is that the skeleton staff at Nelson is so busy with more urgent business that they are unable to find time to make the necessary easement reports in these cases in order that claim for compensation may be presented to the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company. This deplorable delay has thus deprived veterans of moneys to which they are entitled, for an unreasonable time.

It is difficult to understand why the administration of the Veterans' Land Act in this district cannot be organized to provide service with more efficiency and dispatch.

We are all aware that the V.L.A. can find time to make very frequent visits to veterans who are in arrears in their monthly payments to the V.L.A., even when quite small amounts are involved. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot and the money is due the veteran, the matter can be left in abeyance for months.

It is suggested that if the V.L.A. is no longer prepared to provide the necessary staff to carry out the provisions of the act then it is high time that the regulations be revised.

It is hoped that the Legion can insist that action be taken in the matter without further delay.

In fairness to the administration, I may say that after that protest was made by my-

self and by the Legion, some extra help was sent in to the Kootenays and I think, although I am not quite sure, the matter is to be settled in the near future.

I want to bring these facts to the attention of the minister and have him compare them with those in connection with any other district in Canada. I understand the repayment record in West Kootenay is the best in British Columbia. Why? Because the production in the area served by the Nelson office was over $200 million last year. There is a sound development there, and it is becoming increasingly sound. These men who will be applying for loans are largely men employed in permanent industry at good wages or salaries. I believe it is about time that we had an increase in staff at the Nelson office in order to prepare for the future.

I want to tell the minister what the future means. There is a $65 million pulp mill to be built in Kootenay West. Extensions are to be built to the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company plant costing over $30 million. There is a dam being built at Waneta costing over $30 million. All this will mean tremendous development. There is an increasing number of veterans coming in, veterans from the Atlantic to the Pacific who are coming into the area because they realize it is developing into one of the richest areas in Canada. The tremendous industrial development will provide permanent jobs at some of the highest wages in Canada.

This movement creates an increasing demand for housing, and it is going to mean a demand for increased agricultural production. At the present time we only produce 25 per cent of the agricultural production used in the Kootenay district.

I do ask the minister and his officials to give consideration to all these facts. I would ask the department to make Nelson a district office, running under its own steam, so it can report direct to Vancouver instead of delays being occasioned by reports having to go to Kelowna and then to Vancouver, from Vancouver back to Kelowna and from Kelowna to Nelson.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I am not critical of the officials of the department. I recognize the excellent work the local officials have done; but I am somewhat of the opinion that the senior officials do not realize the position there and the need for a district office in Nelson to serve the purposes and needs of veterans now in the district and of veterans who are to come.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink

Item agreed to. Terminable services- 538. Post rehabilitation benefits, including the training of merchant seamen and salt water fishermen pensioners, $1,858,000. (S) War service gratuities (chap. 51, statutes of 1944-45, as amended), $3,300,000. (S) Re-establishment credits (chap. 51, statutes of 1944-45, as amended). $8,750,000; total $13,908,000.


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I should like to ask the minister a question on this item, which has to do with the War Service Grants Act. Apparently there is a provision in the act that if a veteran dies before having used his re-establishment credit it can only be paid to his widow or to his mother, in the latter case if she had been dependent upon him.

I have run across a case where there was no widow for the reason that the wife had divorced the veteran shortly before he died. However, there were small children, and this war service re-establishment credit would have been a great help to them. The minister's department has ruled that section 7A of the act is not wide enough to enable them to use that money for the purpose of helping those children. The money, of course, is remaining in the fund untouched; but I am wondering if there is not some way in which that particular re-establishment credit, and the credits in cases of the same type, can be used for the children.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink
LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Section 7A (1) does give some discretion to the minister. It states:

Where a male member who has deferred his application for re-establishment credit dies after discharge, but before he has used his re-establishment credit in full, his widow, or, in case he leaves no widow, his mother, if the mother in the opinion of the minister or such person as the minister may designate, was wholly dependent on the member immediately prior to his death-

I am glad my hon. friend has drawn this matter to my attention and I will certainly look into it to see if the section as it now stands does not give sufficient authority to meet circumstances such as he has mentioned.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink

Item agreed to. Canadian pension commission- 760. Pensions for disability and death, including pensions granted under the authority of the civilian government employees (war) compensation order P.C. 45/8848 of November 22, 1944, which shall be subject to the Pension Act; and including Newfoundland special awards-further amount required, $600,000.


LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Mr. Chairman, I am not endeavouring to talk myself out, but this is a new item and I think I should mention the reason for it. Under the 1939 agreement relating to the commonwealth air training plan the government of the United Kingdom assumed financial liability for pensions and 68108-325J

Supply-Veterans Affairs certain other benefits granted to trainees under the plan who were posted to R.A.F. units on completion of their training.

The liability of the United Kingdom did not extend to personnel posted to Canadian squadrons, of whom there were three in 1939 but who by 1943 numbered 38. Subsequent to the winding up of the training plan the United Kingdom minister of pensions remained liable for pensions for disability and death which had been granted to these R.C.A.F. personnel who served with the R.A.F.

The procedure was for Canada to pay these particular pensions supplemented to Canadian rates and for the United Kingdom government to repay annually to Canada the cost of the pensions at United Kingdom rates. As a result of certain general financial negotiations which took place between my colleague the Minister of Finance and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the United Kingdom government has been relieved of this liability and Canada has assumed full financial responsibility for these pensions from just prior to the end of the 1952-53 fiscal year.

This supplementary estimate of $600,000 is to cover the estimated amount of revenue which the department expected to receive from the United Kingdom as a credit against pensions paid during 1953-54 but which will not now be received.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Permalink

Item agreed to. Terminable services- 761. Post discharge rehabilitation benefits, including the training of merchant seamen and salt water fishermen pensioners-further amount required, $100,000.


May 11, 1953