July 22, 1960

CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, the committee is carrying on under some difficulties, with no recess for lunch and members having to bob in and out to get something to eat as I did just prior to the opening of these estimates. Some members also have to leave for duty on committees that are still sitting. Then, too, with the very long hours we are sitting, members have to return to their offices to deal with correspondence.

I am sure, however, regardless of that, there is no one who does not consider that these are very important estimates which should receive very careful and considered attention by the committee. I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that if we all co-operate and work hard at these estimates we could give them substantial attention and get through by six o'clock tomorrow evening. I just make that as a suggestion, and appeal to all members to co-operate on that basis.

I am sure the introduction of these estimates always brings back memories to many of the old codgers amongst the veterans in the house, memories of common service and comradeship in previous wars. To all those who served in any of the wars in which the armed forces of Canada have participated this brings back memories; to some of Ypres, the Somme, Vimy; to others of D-day, Normandy, Italy and of other areas in the world and on the seas and Korea. I believe that the veterans amongst the members of this house, regardless of the party to which they belong, reflect that spirit of comradeship in their concern for the problems of veterans and their dependents. I am sure that members of the house get a common satisfaction out of

dealing with legislation that is for the benefit of veterans and their dependents, and all of us derive some happiness in dealing with the personal problems that are brought to our attention and then brought to the attention of the minister or the appropriate officials. I feel there is a particular satisfaction in doing something for the men who served this country, and their dependents.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I want to say that the members of this group appreciate the attention the minister gives to correspondence, to complaints and problems brought to his attention by members. He is very prompt in attending to them within the ambit of the law and regulations-I have had several experiences in this connection-does what he can to solve the problem or satisfy the complaint. I should like to express also the same note of appreciation of the deputy minister, the senior officials in Ottawa and the district officials throughout Canada, and also my appreciation to the members of the Canadian pension commission. I am sure some of them who are present will be fully conscious of the fact that I land my problems on their doorstep and say, "Now, it is up to you." I have found their assistance very helpful. These remarks apply also to the members of the war veterans allowance board and the staff in general throughout the country.

At this time, Mr. Chairman, I wrote, on behalf of this group, to mention the fact that Colonel Garneau, the chairman of the war veterans allowance board, has retired. He first became a member of the board in 1930, and has been its chairman since 1945. We appreciate the service he has rendered to the war veterans and their dependents in his position as a member of the war veterans allowance board and in his position as chairman of that board. On behalf of this group I wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement.

I now want to say a few words about the standing committee on veterans affairs. I send the minutes of proceedings of the standing committee on veterans affairs to Legion branches, to the secretaries of ladies' auxiliaries and to other interested persons in my constituency and across Canada. They are read very closely by the secretaries of Legion branches, and various tidbits are brought to the attention of members at meetings. However, I find they are read even more closely by the members of the ladies' auxiliaries, who follow things up very carefully indeed, and by others. Some have made a point of picking out a number of matters in the minutes which have come to their notice between meetings; they are read to the meetings, and there are

various conversations and debates on the questions and sometimes they produce resolutions.

I often address ladies' auxiliaries. As a matter of fact I am rather fond of addressing the Legion ladies' auxiliaries. I now have a standard lecture that I give once a year. It is entitled "The Law With Respect to Veterans and the Men Behind the Scenes". They are always interested in the law and changes in the law and the regulations, and they are interested in knowing about the men behind the scenes. I have spent many an hour at meetings of ladies' auxiliaries describing the various officials, including the ministers and deputy ministers, parliamentary assistants- particularly in recent years-members of the Canadian pension commission and others. I should like to say this. In the language of modern advertising I have done my best to build up a glamorous image of the men behind the scenes, and I trust they will appreciate what I have done. After that I usually have an interesting question period. All this procedure adds to their knowledge of the legislation and their understanding of what the department and the officials are trying to do.

I must say that all the members of the committee were satisfied indeed with the work of the chairman. He was most fair in dealing with the problems that came before the steering committee and any problems that came before the committee itself. I was a member of the steering committee and I must say, and I do so willingly, that I found him to be most objective in dealing with the problems that come before the chairman of a committee such as the standing committee on veterans affairs.

I might say that in mentioning the various officers I forgot to mention the parliamentary secretary. I intended to say about the parliamentary secretary the same kind things that I said about the other persons during my brief remarks.

I am a great admirer of a group that comes to Ottawa once a year, namely the representatives of the Canadian non-pensioned veterans widows. Most of the members are admirers of this fine group. Four or five of them come here every year and put on a national show, as it were. They stay here for a few days and visit the minister, his parliamentary secretary and various officials. The previous parliamentary secretary took a great interest in the problems of widows. In replying to the letters they write I always say this: I advise you to write to the hon. member for Brandon, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who I know

Supply-Veterans Affairs will be particularly delighted to deal with any problems that widows may bring to his attention.

The committee did very well this year in a detailed examination of the estimates, and I presume it will not be necessary for this committee to go into another detailed examination of the mechanics of the department today. I am sure hon. members will have questions that arise from problems in their constituency or from some lack of understanding of the administration of the department. However, there was a good examination of the estimates and we heard from the various senior officials, from the deputy minister down, as to the administration of the department in all sections of Canada and in all its aspects and phases. I have no hesitation in saying that the people of Canada have every right to be proud of the Department of Veterans Affairs as a department with a heart administering excellent legislation.

Before passing on I want to deal just briefly with the second report of the committee to the house, in which it was mentioned that representations and briefs were heard and received from the following organizations: Canadian non-pensioned veterans'

widows association; Canadian chiropractic association; war amputations of Canada-dominion council; Newfoundland overseas forestry association; Canadian war disability pensioners' association; Canadian corps association-dominion command; national council of veterans associations in Canada. I now quote one paragraph from this report. That paragraph reads as follows:

The value of the existence of a standing committee on veterans affairs was once again demonstrated by the continued interest shown by veterans' organizations in the submission of briefs, and the appearance before the committee of delegates who put forth their organizations' views . ..

The views of these organizations as expressed to the committee now form a part of the printed record, and your committee is confident that they will be of valuable assistance to the government in its review of policies affecting veterans legislation.

First of all, I say again that there is no question but that the Legion branches, veterans organizations, ladies auxiliaries and all those interested in veterans problems recognize the value of the standing committee on veterans affairs. I trust the government and the minister particularly will have read the representations made to the committee by the organizations I have mentioned, as we are confident they will be of valuable assistance in assessing the need for amendment of the legislation under the veterans charter.

The position of the C.C.F. party during the years has been this with respect to

Supply-Veterans Affairs veterans legislation. We have always been of the opinion that national veterans organizations in close contact with veterans problems are the ones that should best understand the needs of veterans and their dependents and the type of amendments best suited to meet that need. Therefore, in so far as legislation relating to the veterans charter is concerned, the C.C.F. has always taken the position that it supported the representations of the Legion, the national council of veterans and any other national veterans organization in Canada for improvements to the veterans charter and all legislation that comes under it.

Quite recently a convention of the Canadian Legion was held in Windsor. I believe it was the 35th convention. On occasion the minister has referred to Legion conventions as the veterans parliament, and it is recognized as such. It is a large gathering of representatives of Legion branches throughout Canada. I was able to attend the last convention for a couple of days. Keen disappointment was expressed, by the delegates and in resolutions, at the failure of the government to amend the Pension Act, particularly, and the War Veterans Allowance Act. Evidence of that disappointment was found in the resolutions adopted by the convention, where for the first time within my knowledge, in reading convention resolutions, the Legion instead of using the word "request" uses the word "demand". Following the preamble, the resolution of the Legion goes on to say this:

Be it resolved that this convention expresses its displeasure at the lack of action on the part of the government, and demands that the Canadian Pension Act be amended at the present session of parliament in accordance with Legion representations.

That is the first time in Canadian history to my knowledge, or in the history of the Legion, that the word "request" has been replaced by the word "demand". I am not going to deal at length with this question. We shall have something to say on the items as they come before the committee. We all know that the minister's heart is in the right place, and I am sure no one in this house was more disappointed than the minister when he found it was not possible to secure government agreement to an amendment of the Pension Act. I am sure he was disappointed at the check rein put on expenditures of this department by, no doubt, the treasury board and the Minister of Finance which prevented him from introducing amendments to the Pension Act which he believes are necessary.

The representations made by the organizations I have mentioned before the standing

committee on veterans affairs, and the resolutions passed at the national convention of the Canadian Legion which are included in the July issue of The Legionary clearly indicate that the Legion recognizes the need for certain amendments to veterans legislation, and I think this is also indicated by the conversations and correspondence I have had with a good many veterans and their dependants.

Before I conclude I want to put this important question into focus. The government of Canada is called upon to spend a great deal of money on behalf of many important sections of the Canadian people. It has spent very large sums of money in assisting a good number of other people, and rightly so. But we must not forget that a very great responsibility is owed to the veterans of Canada and their dependants, and in order to focus attention on their position in the Canadian scheme of things I wish to quote briefly from an address by Colonel C. P. Stacey, the official historian of the Canadian army, to a gathering of veterans some three or four years ago. I quote his remarks because what he has to say is not very generally known or appreciated in these days when there is an inclination to forget what these men have done on behalf of our country. He said this, in part:

I think most of them would be willing to admit that those who really won for Canada her new position in the commonwealth was the Canadian fighting man. The statesmen have simply consolidated the ground he took. It was the deeds of the old Canadian corps that put strength into Sir Robert Borden's arm that enabled him to insist on a new national status for this country, in the days of the Paris peace conference. It was the men who fought under Byng and Currie who set Canada's feet on the road that led to the statute of Westminster and future independence within the commonwealth.

Future generations of Canadians, if they read their history aright, will count these men among the founding fathers of this country.

In addition to that, in the light of recent events I would say that those who in the second world war served in Europe and other theatres of war, on the high seas and in the air, and more recently in Korea, and more recently still with the United Nations expeditionary force in the Middle East, have also made their contribution toward establishing Canada's place as a country of importance in the world, and also have laid the foundation for Canada's voice in international affairs being listened to with greater and greater respect at the United Nations and other organizations. I just mention these facts so that we all may realize the debt we owe these veterans and their dependants

on account of the services rendered in the armed forces of this country throughout the years.

When the minister was introducing his estimates he gave an interesting review of some of the work and developments of his department. I listened to this with interest because my ear is always attuned to catch that hint of the future, of things to come. Although I was disappointed and saddened by the recent failure of the government to respond to the representations of the Canadian Legion, I was somewhat heartened when I heard the minister say that he looked forward to a year of progress. I trust, Mr. Chairman, that this means the representations of the Canadian Legion and other veterans organizations are going to receive favourable consideration by this government at the coming session of parliament.

Before completing my remarks on this item I must also express the support of this group for the representations made on behalf of the Newfoundland forestry unit. We urge this government to recognize the members of this unit as veterans in every sense of the word and according to the terms of the veterans charter, even if it has to be slightly amended to do so. The Canadian Legion at its biennial convention in Windsor quite recently discussed this question thoroughly. A committee studied it, and finally a resolution was adopted entitling these men to membership in the Canadian Legion as veterans. I support wholeheartedly the representations of the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo on behalf of this forestry unit, and I trust that the government's decision will be influenced by the action of the Canadian Legion.

Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say at this time. I want to bring up some other matters under particular items and deal in detail with some of the things I have lightly touched upon in my few remarks under this main item, but I again appeal to the committee to give close attention to the estimates of the minister so that we can conclude our consideration of them by 6 p.m. tomorrow evening.

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PC

John Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Smith (Lincoln):

Mr. Chairman, I would like at this time to bring to the attention of the minister a problem which concerns a small group of first world war British imperial veterans who I think should be given special consideration at this time. I do not want to appear critical in any way, and far be it from me to be that way, but I do think that with my association with British imperial veterans over the years I can bring to the minister and his staff our sincere thanks and appreciation for the splendid way they have

Supply-Veterans Affairs been treated here by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are almost as well treated as the Canadian veteran, more especially as far as veterans allowances are concerned.

The problem of those veterans about which I wish to speak has been brought before the standing committee on veterans affairs by way of a resolution from Canadian corps association in March, 1958. At that time the appeal made on their behalf was not approved. However, I have accumulated considerable correspondence in connection with the matter, and I was hoping to have the opportunity to present it to the veterans affairs committee again this year. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to become a member of that very select group. I am still hoping that perhaps in a year or so I shall be able to graduate to membership in the veterans committee.

There are perhaps less than 50 of these veterans in the whole of Canada at the present time and I know of only three cases in southern Ontario, so this is a small matter financially as far as the government is concerned. However, it is a very important and vexing matter for the veterans who are affected. The veterans to whom I refer served with the British imperial army during 1914-19 on the northwest frontier of India and on the Afghanistan frontier. They did not receive the British victory medal, and according to the existing regulations they are not entitled to the Canadian war veterans allowance. That is the crux of the whole problem.

I should like to state the case of one of these veterans, or at least that of his widow, because the veteran is dead. I have collected considerable correspondence in connection with this case, including the deceased veteran's discharge certificate. The certificate says that he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in London in October, 1907. He served on active service from 1914 to 1919 and was discharged in 1920 after 12 years of service. After that he served for nine years in the reserve army. He was awarded the British war medal, the Indian general service medal and the Afghanistan frontier medal. He was awarded the red chevron for active service in 1914 and five blue chevrons for the years 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1919. However, for some reason he did not receive the victory medal and his wife is now not entitled to the war veterans widow's allowance.

I have a considerable amount of information here in the form of British army regulations relating to what were considered to be theatres of war and the names of British regiments which saw active service on the Indian frontier and in the Persian gulf area.

Supply-Veterans Affairs It would appear that areas all around the Afghanistan frontier were considered theatres of war; however, service on the Afghan border was considered to be an affair of border skirmishes only. Here is the case of a veteran leaving behind him a discharge certificate showing 12 years' service in the armed forces and nine years of service in the reserve. This man saw active service overseas from 1914 to 1919; he received the general service medal, the Indian general service medal and the Afghanistan frontier medal and all the active service chevrons it was possible for him to receive in the first war, but his widow, though now in need of dependant's allowance is unable to get it and has to accept welfare assistance.

I should like to read into the record a letter I have received from Mr. H. Cutler, secretary to the Earl of Home, chief commonwealth relations officer, London, England:

I am directed by the Earl of Home to refer to your letter received by the army medal office on September 28, 1959 and to enclose a schedule giving details (from the limited information now available) of British army units regarded as having qualified by operational service in the frontier regions of India for (a) the 1914-15 star and (b) the victory medal, which has been received from the army medal office who have mentioned, however, that for want of original records, it cannot be stated as being authoritative.

It is regretted that comprehensive particulars of the Indian army units who served in frontier areas in India are not available.

I am to point out that the definition "Theatres of War'' since the 5th August 1914, includes all operations in those areas set out in the published army orders, etc., relating to the grant of the 1914-15 star and the victory medal.

With regard to operational service on the N. W. frontier of India from May 1919, I am to say that these were punitive operations directed against the Afghan tribes, and the various expeditions in the regions concerned were not officially described as service in a theatre of war; but the names of the individuals who took part were included in the orders of battle and they were awarded the India general service medal with relative clasp (s).

A copy of army instruction (India) No. 795 of 1920 concerning the grant of the India general service medal with clasp for operational service against Afghanistan in 1919 is also enclosed for your information.

Parts of this letter clearly indicate that there were irregularities, and a lack of service records could have prevented certain British veterans from getting full credit for their services. I wish to draw to the attention of the committee to such passages as:

However that for want of original records it cannot be stated as being authoritative.

It is regretted that comprehensive particulars of the Indian army units who served in frontier areas in India are not available.

Then the letter goes on to say:

I am to say that these were punitive operations directed against the Afghan tribes. .. but the names of the individuals who took part were

[Mr. Smith (Lincoln) .1

included in the orders of battle and they were awarded the India general service medal with relative clasp.

but no victory medal. Those troops who went to the Indian frontier had to travel long distances in troopships in submarine-infested waters; they were subjected to malaria and dysentery, which are just as destructive to human life as shellfire, and for all that is left of them now here in Canada we might very well make an exception of some kind and give them or their dependants the benefits of the War Veterans Allowance Act.

I have no record of the number of casualties suffered by those British troops who served on the north west Indian and Afghanistan frontiers. However, as indicated by the large number of clearing and stationary hospitals and field ambulance units which were in that theatre of war, the casualties must have been heavy, and I note that at the outpost held by the Somerset Light Infantry there was an infantry battalion, one armoured car unit, one mechanical transport company, three combined field ambulances and one stationary hospital. It was just fate that put veterans like those I have described, who were in the regular British army prior to 1914, on the Indian frontier rather than in France, Belgium or Italy, and the same set of facts apply to those who enlisted during the war and were sent to India.

According to the records there were rather strange decisions made. Some British soldiers who served in India from 1914-1919 received the victory medal while others received the Indian general service medal. Those who served on the Afghanistan frontier were among those who got the Indian general service medal. Surely an apparent error of judgment made some 40 years ago should not now deprive those veterans or their dependants of the benefits of the war veterans allowance. I strongly recommend to the minister that the 1914-19 award of the Indian general service medal be accepted as entitlement to the war veterans allowance as well as the victory medal.

I have a large file on this subject, in which I have taken a keen interest. I feel it is a matter that is deserving of sympathetic consideration. I do not expect there will be an attempt made to change the regulations as far as the British government is concerned in trying to get those fellows a victory medal, but the award of the Indian general service medal should be accepted as entitlement for war veterans allowance.

I have had a long association with British imperial veterans. They appreciate everything that is done for them by the Canadian government. It is a matter of regret to me that there are not many left now who served in world war I. I hope the minister will give this question his sympathetic, favourable consideration.

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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten

Liberal

Mr. Batten:

Mr. Chairman, it is not my wish to delay the minister's estimates, but I should like to make one or two comments. As a member of the committee on veterans affairs I have always been particularly impressed with the way the officials of the department have informed themselves as to what goes on within the department. They take great pains to ensure that the members of that committee are given full explanations during the examination of the estimates. From the way this is done one can only conclude that they must arm themselves with the necessary information about the entire department. In correspondence with the officials of the department they show the same diligence and desire to serve the veterans of Canada as they show in the committee. The estimates of this department were thoroughly investigated in the committee, and I for one feel there is no need for any extended examination in the committee of supply.

I was impressed by the recommendations made by the Canadian Legion for amendments to the War Veterans Allowance Act. These recommendations are well known to hon. members of the committee and to veterans all across the country, and there is no need to repeat them here. However, I should like to support the recommendations, and I hope that in the next session of parliament careful attention will be given to them by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

With further reference to the War Veterans Allowance Act, I would hope, too, that further consideration would be given to those veterans of world war I who did not see service in an active theatre and who are now disqualified because of the time limit of 365 days before the end of hostilities. Further consideration should be given to this regulation in respect of many cases. I hope that in time the necessary consideration will be given to this matter. It was no fault of these men that they were not old enough to volunteer before they did. When they volunteered they were prepared to go anywhere they were sent. Of course no soldier can decide where he wants to go. If their service was confined to England for some reason or

Supply-Veterans Affairs other, it should not deprive them of consideration. They deserve consideration over and above what has already been given to them.

Some of us were concerned that no amendments to the Pension Act were introduced. We hope that during the next session of parliament the minister will be able to give consideration to this important matter.

During the meetings of the committee I was impressed with the brief presented on behalf of the forestry units of Newfoundland. I shall not deal with the points raised in the brief, but I do feel that these men are deserving of more consideration than they received up to this time. I read their brief carefully after the committee meeting was over and also examined various documents which were not presented in the committee. They were very convincing to me. I hope that during the meetings of the committee next year and in the consideration which the minister will give to veterans affairs, the position of the Newfoundland forestry units will be given the attention it deserves. To the requests made respecting the forestry units of Newfoundland I should like to couple the requests made on behalf of the merchant navy. This group of men should be given further consideration.

It was a great pleasure earlier in the year to go with the committee to visit Queen Mary hospital at Montreal and the institution fat Ste. Anne de Bellevue. I was extremely impressed with the work done in these institutions and by the devotion of the officials there to their tasks. It was a new experience for me because I had not been in a veterans hospital before. The visit provided me with a much greater insight into the problems of the department with respect to veterans hospitals and the work done there.

While hon. members of parliament may not be able to travel far from Ottawa while the house is in session, I do suggest to the minister and his deputy that hon. members who are not members of the committee on veterans affairs and who have not visited a veterans hospital should be encouraged to go to Montreal to visit the Queen Mary hospital and see at first hand the type of work done there. I am sure if they did they would come back, as I did, with a greater respect for the problems which the department has to solve and for the contribution which the officials of the department are making to the welfare of the Canadian veteran.

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PC

Oscar William Weichel

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Weichel:

Mr. Chairman, it is a real privilege for me to take part in the discussion of the veterans affairs estimates for the first time since becoming a member of this house. As a disabled veteran of the first great war I

Supply-Veterans Affairs have not had the opportunity of expressing my thanks and appreciation to the federal government for the assistance I have received.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs, his secretary, deputy and members of his department, along with the Canadian Legion, the war amputations association of Canada, the Polish legion, the Canadian pension commission, the army, navy and air force association and other organizations have made many deserving contributions to the welfare of all veterans. Their efforts have given the veteran in most cases the incentive to carry on and take his place in everyday life with those more fortunate.

Canada is proud of her courageous men and women who left all that was dear to them, endured hardships and faced danger on many occasions. Many years of international tension have intervened. Much still remains with us of the deep feeling, the sorrow, the thankfulness and pride we knew when we first began to commemorate Remembrance day. Let us always keep faith with those who paid the price. I well remember those wonderful words written by Canon Scott of Montreal, chaplain of the 1st Canadian division of the first great war:

Over the broken dead, over the trenches and wire,

Bugles of God rang out-"Cease fire".

Woe to those nations of men who in their heat of desire,

Break that stern order of God, "Cease fire".

I met this great man going over the top with the infantry at Amiens, and he said to me at that time, "Son, this is a great day for Canada." Our continued obligations to the needy veteran, his dependants, the silver cross women whose husbands, sons and daughters died in the course of duty and selfsacrifice, are more important today than ever before. Yes, every year since 1918 has brought greater problems to our needy comrades still suffering from the effects of war. They will carry their scars to the grave.

First, we are reminded of the silver cross women. I have always been impressed with their desire to carry on in spite of their lives saddened by the loss of their loved ones. Some time ago I had the privilege of attending the war amputations convention in Ottawa. This is an outstanding gathering of war amps, the blind and paraplegic cases. Our president, the Reverend Colonel Sidney Lambert, O.B.E., has been in office since the organization was formed over 25 years ago. This is perhaps the only organization in the world which has never had a past president. Recently I was honoured by being awarded life membership in the war amps of Canada. In this group was also the blind colonel, Eddie Baker, a great man who feels it is a real privilege to visit and speak to the veterans in hospital

and give them every encouragement. Mr. Chairman, just imagine a blind veteran overlooking his own terrific disability in order to inspire others with less suffering. I am sure it can be agreed that we have always admired the wonderful spirit of our blind comrades.

Will we ever forget the terrific hardships endured by our prisoners of war, especially at Hong Kong, and the difficulties these men have had in re-establishing their living conditions, both physically and mentally, as we enjoy them in our daily routine? Some time ago I had the honour of entertaining the battle fatigue patients in Westminster hospital in London, Ontario. This was an experience I shall never forget, and I made the remark at that time, "I shall never let them down as long as it is humanly possible to assist them".

Our continued sympathetic care means so much to these unfortunate veterans. I understand that great medical strides have been made concerning such cases. We will always remember the thoughtful care we received from our nurses and doctors, many of whom paid the supreme sacrifice in carrying out their humanitarian services. Many of the nurses and doctors who survived are still serving today.

We know that improvements can always be made in our many hospitals across Canada, Mr. Chairman. However, I should like to congratulate our minister, his hospital administration department and the staff in all hospitals for their kind consideration and assistance extended to all those in need of medical attention. Letters of appreciation from some of those veterans have been received by me.

Finally, we think of those who came back without a scratch, as the old veteran would express himself. Some of those are still having a very difficult time re-establishing themselves in civilian life. Let us not be impatient with them. After all, they were part of a great organization who gave their best for King and country. We agree that most veterans, along with our pensioners, through their own initiative have re-established themselves in civilian life in a very admirable way. A great deal of this success is attributed to their wives who, throughout the years, studied and understood their problems.

Perhaps I could mention one or two points that have given me much concern, Mr. Chairman. In the case of the death of a pensioner disabled to the extent of 50 per cent or more, the widow finds herself with a greatly reduced pension, and during a crucial and emotional period finds that she

is suddenly thrust into a financial crisis which seems to have no solution. With this condition so prevalent in most of those cases, may I suggest to the government and to our Minister of Veterans Affairs that every consideration be given to the widow whereby she may receive a full pension for one year following the death of her husband.

The pensioner's lot has improved much since 1918. However, when pension adjustments are forthcoming let us make sure that this veteran will not have any financial difficulties added to his physical handicap.

My second point refers to continuation of the allowance after the death of a pensioner in receipt of a pension of less than 50 per cent. The present legislation states:

In the case of those in receipt of less than 50 per cent at the time of death and whose death is not established as due to pensionable disabilities, no pension or allowance is paid.

In order to grant financial protection to the dependants of such pensioners, may I recommend to the Minister of Veterans Affairs that the allowance in respect of wife and dependants being paid to those pensioned at less than 50 per cent at the time of death be continued to the widow and such dependants so long as they remain eligible as otherwise provided under the act. Such legislation would avoid many hardships.

As the Minister of Veterans Affairs previously mentioned, our government has brought about many changes. In 1957 and 1958 amendments to the Pension Act and the War Veterans Allowance Act were passed which were very beneficial. In 1958 the soldiers insurance, veterans insurance, and the children of war dead, education assistance, acts were reviewed and amended, while in 1959 the Veterans' Land Act and the War Service Grants Acts were brought up to date and greatly improved.

In closing my remarks, Mr. Chairman, may I say I was pleased to note that Bill No. C-71, to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act has been passed in this house. As I said during the course of the discussion of the bill in the house, it will be a great boon to those veterans who find it necessary for reason of health, and in some cases family ties, to live outside Canada.

The amendment providing for equal priv-iliges under the act to the allied veterans of world war II was of special interest to my constituents. This has been warmly received by the Polish legion branches in Kitchener and other places. Among the membership of this branch there are many who served with distinction.

The efforts and sincerity of our Minister of Veterans Affairs, his parliamentary secretary

Supply-Veterans Affairs and his deputy minister as well as the officials of his department, have long been recognized. However, Mr. Speaker, I hope my remarks will produce a still greater understanding of the problems involved, and that we may continue to realize that with changing conditions it is our duty and privilege to improve the lot of all needy veterans and their dependants, who gave their all at a time when their country was in urgent need of their loyalty and devotion to duty.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I hope, Mr. Chairman, that in a limited number of words I can add my appreciation to those who have already been spoken with regard to the very courteous and efficient way in which our representations to the minister and his officers have been handled. I believe this is one of the finest departments of government in this regard. I should like to place before the minister also a few questions, and I hope he will answer them either when he replies on the first item or later during the discussion of the detailed items.

I had on my list the very point to which reference has been made by the hon. member for Waterloo North, and that is the plight of the widow of a disability pensioner whose husband, when he was alive, was receiving a disability pension of less than 50 per cent. I believe that much cruelty is needlessly being endured by what I am sure must be a limited number of individuals in Canada. A man may have a disability, but if he dies as the result of a heart attack it is often difficult or impossible to prove that the heart attack was primarily caused by his war disability. The widow, under those conditions, is not entitled to the pension.

I should like to bring to the minister's attention the fact that in my opinion the cases of war veterans allowance widows receive far more consideration than do the cases of the widows of disability pensioners. I believe that without adding much to the expenditures of the government, we might be able to allow a little more leeway so that a limited number of widows would be eligible to continue receiving this pension for as long as there was need of it, or for as long as they lived as widows.

I do want to register one complaint which I believe has not yet been adequately dealt with, and that is the complaint of the veterans living on small holdings, which small holdings have since become absorbed in the sprawling, rapid growth of our larger metropolitan areas. What I have particular reference to is the rapidly mounting assessment levels that these veterans have to endure. The minister may well reply that this is a responsibility of either the municipal or provincial authorities.

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Supply-Veterans Affairs I have carried on considerable correspondence with municipal and provincial authorities in this regard, and I know that to a certain extent the minister is right when he says this is outside the field of his responsibility.

However, when the veterans agreed to the terms respecting their small holdings, the intention of the government and the intention of the veterans was that these small holdings would remain and be operated as small holdings. However, for reasons entirely beyond the control of these veterans, they often find the assessors moving in and deciding that a veteran is holding a couple of acres while all the land around him has been carved up into lots. Then he is assessed according to the number of lots the acreage may contain. The veteran, under his agreement with the government, loses a considerable advantage if he carves up his land into lots before the expiration of the agreement. There have been cases in which the taxes have increased by as much as 800 per cent in a single year.

I feel there is a moral obligation on the part of this government toward the veterans. I suppose all the minister can do is exert his influence with the provincial governments to see that the spirit of the agreement entered into by these veterans with small holdings is not broken as a result of the actions of another level of government. I feel that our provincial governments, to the extent they can do anything about it, as well as our municipal governments, are breaking that agreement which was reached between the veterans and the national authorities.

I should like to ask the minister whether any progress has been made on another matter. Does the government accept any responsibility for what may have been a wrong medical classification at the time of enlistment? It has always been my contention that if on the basis of an examination by the medical staff attached to the armed forces we classify a man as being in first class physical shape, and if the country has a right to demand of him the supreme sacrifice, then it is pretty small of the nation to say at some later date, "We are sorry, but we made a mistake when we first gave you a class A rating, and because your present difficulty is of preenlistment origin you cannot have a pension". I know that, again, not too many people are involved, but many of those who are involved feel that the government of Canada has not kept faith with them.

I know very well there may be cases where the enlisted man deliberately hid his disability at the time of enlistment in his desire or eagerness to be placed in the top medical category. However, I believe the nation assumes responsibility for a man's health at that

time, and we ought not to sneak out from under that responsibility afterwards by saying "We are very sorry, but we believe now that you had this disability before you were accepted into the armed forces".

In so far as the failure of the government to increase the disability pension in particular at this session of parliament is concerned, may I recall to the minister that in the blue book of estimates there is indication of an increase this year over last year in the estimates of the Minister of Finance to the extent of $176,319,026. In the Department of National Health and Welfare there is an increase in old age security payments of almost $12,400,000. In the category of family allowances we note an increase of $13 million. As a matter of fact, this year in family allowances we expect to be spending $508 million, and in the field of old age security payments, $590 million. Yet when I turn to the estimates of the minister I find there is actually a decrease in the over-all estimates, as compared to one year ago, of $1,901,012.

I know that the first war veterans may be dying off rapidly these days. However, I would assume that as our nation becomes wealthier and as we show that we can pay more money for many other purposes, worth while as most of them may well be, it should be possible to do something at such a time when the Canadian Legion presents such an excellent case pointing out that they today, in relation to the income of wage earners, are in a less equitable position than they were almost right after the first world war, when our veterans legislation was first begun. All they are asking is that they be granted by comparison, the measure of equity now that they had shortly after the end of the first world war.

I know the government is always faced with demands for more money, but I was greatly surprised to note an actual decrease in the amount being spent in this department as compared to one year ago. I know the minister has been in the House of Commons for many years and has made many moving arguments and speeches on behalf of this principle for which I am now pleading. He has called repeatedly, especially when he was in opposition, for the restoration of at least that equity for the veteran that he received vis-a-vis the income of the wage earner.

Over in the United Kingdom when a minister is in serious disagreement with the government it is usually the custom for that minister to submit his resignation and thereby call public attention to the rightfulness of his position as he understands it. In Canada

we are not quite so anxious to resign our particular offices. However, if last winter the minister did not see fit to push his conviction to the point of a possible resignation from the cabinet, may I say this. Knowing the minister as well as I do, I have every confidence that he is not going to sit for many more years as a member of the cabinet without gaining for our veterans the concession for which he pleaded so earnestly over so many years.

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PC

Harris George Rogers

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rogers:

As one of the members of the standing committee on veterans affairs, it is not my intention to prolong this debate. However, I think there is one important factor that is worthy of mention, and it can be covered in a few words. We have a dedicated minister. In consequence this dedication is carried throughout every branch of the department across Canada. There is nothing unusual about this situation. After all, when one examines the training and experience of veterans as a whole we find that it means simply this. We unite. Veterans have a language of their own. They can discuss matters, but when the chips are down they all get together for a common purpose.

As will be observed, the minister pointed out that the Pension Act is to be reviewed during this coming session. That is all to the good. I should just like to leave one thought with this committee, and it is this. While I have no axe to grind in connection with the review of the whole pension plan, I think the time has arrived when we should examine carefully certain areas covered by the Pension Act and in particular by the War Veterans Allowance Act. In connection with pensioners there are cases in which I do not think an over-all increase is required. After all, I for one want to have this money go where it will do the most good. I repeat that the time has arrived when we must segregate certain sections and see to it that any increases in pensions or war veterans allowances are made where they will do the most good.

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LIB

Charles Ronald McKay Granger

Liberal

Mr. Granger:

There are just three points with which I should like to deal briefly. They have already been covered really by the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo and the hon. member for Humber-St. George's, whose remarks I should like to endorse. I should like to associate myself with the speeches made by those two hon. members.

However, I should like to mention particularly those members of the Royal Newfoundland regiment who did not serve in a theatre of war but who did go overseas to England in the first world war. I hope the Minister of Veterans Affairs or his department will so modify their legislation that

Supply-Veterans Affairs these men will come under the veterans charter. I should also like to mention the brief of the Newfoundland forestry association. The members of the Newfoundland forestry unit in world war II, along with the merchant navy and the rescue tug service, should be brought within the scope of the veterans legislation.

I should like to support the brief presented to the standing committee on veterans affairs by the Canadian Legion. I hope that during the coming year the Minister of Veterans Affairs and his department will bring in the necessary legislation to implement the requests contained in that brief.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I just want to answer as briefly as I can some of the questions that were asked by hon. members. Personally I thank all hon. members for their kind remarks about the Department of Veterans Affairs and the staff. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that I join wholeheartedly in what has been said about the staff. As minister, I am extremely proud of my staff in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The hon. member for Burin-Burgeo spoke about the reduction in the estimates. May I point out that the reduction is in the administration of the department this year, and that there is no reduction with regard to pensions, war veterans allowances, treatment or other branches of the department.

The hon. member also raised the question of the Newfoundland forestry unit which went overseas in the last war. This is a matter which will have to receive very careful consideration when a review is made of the Pension Act or the war veterans allowances. These were not enlisted men. They went over as civilians and signed an agreement as civilians to perform certain duties in England, and were not recognized by the imperial defence department as veterans.

That is the problem which we will have to solve one way or the other. It is now 20 years since the beginning of the second world war, when these men went overseas, and it seems to me that if something needed to be done it should have been done long ago. Of course that is no reason for saying that because they were neglected in the past they should be neglected now. I have had a lot of experience in past years with organizations such as this.

Mention was made of the merchant marine. I can remember committee after committee for the last 15 or 20 years dealing with the merchant marine, and I have felt that if there were any group of men who really deserved consideration such as that recommended this afternoon it was the merchant marine, because those men really did suffer hardships

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Supply-Veterans Affairs in their work. For instance, on convoys of ships on the North sea run up through the Arctic circle their ships were torpedoed and they suffered all sorts of hardships. Then there were the fire fighters in London during the blitz. Actually it was after the real blitz when they arrived, but they were under constant danger. I do not want to make comparisons, but we can hardly compare the men who went over with the forestry unit with these men. As I said a moment ago, committees of this house considered the merchant marine and the fire fighters on many occasions, but they could not see their way clear to regard them as belonging to the armed forces. However, that is just the history I am giving the hon. member, which I am sure he knows very well.

The hon. member for Kootenay West will recognize some of the information I have been giving, because he has sat on veterans affairs committees for many years and is very familiar with the work of past committees. I want to thank him for the very kind words he uttered about the department and also about the standing committee on veterans affairs. I heartily agree with him that this committee has justified its existence. Hon. members will recall that when I was in opposition I was very anxious to have a standing committee on veterans affairs, and I am very pleased indeed with the work the committee has been doing not only in reviewing legislation but also the very careful and exhaustive survey it makes of the estimates of this department.

The hon. member for Waterloo North in an excellent address this afternoon had practical statements to make about hospitalization. The hon. member is himself a disabled pensioner, and when he speaks about our hospitals he is speaking from a personal point of view because he has spent considerable time in our hospitals. He mentioned pensioners with 50 per cent disability or less, and recommended that the widow of a pensioner who had 50 per cent pension or less should receive a pension the same as the widow of a pensioner who had over 50 per cent. This is another matter which will have to be considered by the committee and the department when the Pension Act comes under review.

The hon. member for Lincoln had his problem of the imperial veterans. May I say that I think the imperial veterans in Canada are very appreciative, as they should be, of what the Department of Veterans Affairs and the government of Canada have done for them. The particular case he brought before us today had to do with imperial veterans who served in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has not been recognized as a theatre of war, and as ;J1

a result these men have not qualified for war veterans allowances. The hon. member felt that some change should be made in the regulations.

I would like to point out in connection with the veterans of allied forces, whether they be imperial, whether they come from France, Italy, the United States, or any other country, that our department has to take the definition of "service in a theatre of war" as it is given to us by the particular country concerned. As far as ex-imperials are concerned, the definition of service in a theatre of war is as follows: ex-imperials who served in world war I are eligible where the applicant engaged in any of the operations outlined in army order 391-1922, and as a result was issued with a victory medal. Unfortunately these men were not issued with a victory medal, so they are not considered as eligible for war veterans allowance in this country. We might make representations to the British government asking that their definition be changed. I would be very pleased to do that, and if they do change the definition then it will be possible for us to act.

The hon. member for Humber-St. George's recommended that we carry out the recommendations contained in the Legion brief with regard to war veterans allowances, and that consideration should be given to those who did not have 365 days, for instance, in Great Britain. I am not going to debate that matter extensively this afternoon; it has been debated extensively in this house and in committees in the past.

The whole basis of war veterans allowances has been changed. When war veterans allowances were first granted they were granted as compensation to men who had spent many months in the trenches in France. That was the original idea. A man who went through the suffering and hardships experienced by men in the trenches must have aged ten years, and it was thought by parliament and veterans organizations of those days that they should be considered for war veterans allowance as a form of social security when they were 60 years of age.

As I say, there have been many changes. The last change was made a few years ago, in 1957, when the government, I might say on the recommendation of the Canadian Legion, considered that the men who had spent time in England should receive war veterans allowances. It was not considered then that men who came to England in the last few months of the war had suffered to any great extent, to any extent in fact, and for that reason it was not considered that they should be eligible for the war veterans allowance. There have been many changes.

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That is the reason it is put at 365 days. History tells us there were between 35,000 and 40,000 men who arrived in England within the last six months of the war, and they were not all volunteers; most of them were not. But that is another matter. The hon. member for Burnaby-Coquitlam also recommended that widows of pensioners whose pension was less than 50 per cent should receive a pension. Of course, if the disability pensioner dies from his disabilities the widow receives the full amount of the pension. If he does not die from his disability he would be eligible for war veterans allowance, his wife would also be eligible for war veterans allowance if she met the requirements. The allowance would amount to $70 plus $20, which is $90. If she has children she could receive up to $145 a month provided, again, she met the requirements. The hon. member also mentioned men living on small holdings obtained under the Veterans Land Act in areas where both population and land values have greatly increased. He felt it unfair that there should be increased assessments in respect of these small holdings. This is, of course, as the hon. member recognized a matter for the local municipalities or local governments. They would have the responsibility of assessing the tax in such cases. I might point out that we have found that the value of small holdings near large towns has greatly increased and very often when the time comes for the men who have acquired such holdings under the act to purchase the land after ten years they have a property which has greatly increased in value. I, personally, would like to see cities and provincial governments give special consideration to these veterans and not increase their taxes during this 10-year period but that, as I say, is something over which the federal government has no control. The hon. member for Burnaby-Coquitlam also brought up an old problem, one which has bedevilled us for the last 40 years, namely responsibility for the wrong medical classification. I know this causes the pension commission considerable worry; but there is a principle under which they have to operate and in the pre-enlistment condition if certain conditions although congenital are not manifest at the time of enlistment, when the condition manifests itself during or after service the commission may pension for service aggravation only. That is the regulation, and it is also the law, and that is what the pension commission has been doing. If there is any change that can be considered later when the Pension Act is being reviewed. The hon. member made a comparison between old age security benefits under the Supply-Veterans Affairs Department of National Health and Welfare and payments made under the War Veterans Allowance Act. Naturally there is a lot more money being spent by the Department of Health and Welfare. By comparison, the number of recipients of allowances administered by this department is very limited, limited, of course, to returned members of the armed forces, while the other applies to all people in this country who are 70 years of age or more. Under the Old Age Security Act the pension amounts to $55 a month and it is granted when the pensioner reaches the age of 70, unless, of course, he comes under the other act which grants it at 65 years of age under a means test. The recipient of war veterans allowance, if he is a married man, can and usually does receive $145 a month. A pensioner in receipt of an old age security pension receives $55 a month at the age of 70; the recipient of war veterans allowance receives his pension at 60 years of age. The hon. member went on to talk about the widows of recipients of war veterans allowance. The widow, if she qualifies, can also receive an allowance which, for a single person, amounts to $70 and which, again, in most cases is usually raised to $90 a month. Thus, really, the comparison is very much in favour of the recipient of war veterans allowance as compared with the recipient of old age security allowance. The hon. member for Red Deer has had a lot of experience with veterans affairs. At one time he was a very valuable employee of the department. He talks about a means test, though perhaps I should not call it a means test, because that is a word which is not very popular. Nevertheless, it would in effect be a means test, and that is something which I do not think we could get the veterans organizations to accept. I do not think it would be popular. A disability pension is given in respect of the disability which a man has incurred. If a man has lost a leg or an arm he receives a pension without regard to his personal property or personal income, and all men who have suffered a loss of this kind are treated in the same way. It has often been said, and I repeat here, that we cannot call it compensation for loss because no amount of money can compensate a man for the loss of an arm, leg or his sight. However, it is an idea and it is something I am sure the hon. member will be pleased to present to the committee at such time as the Pension Act is again considered. The hon. member for Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador endorsed the recommendations of his colleagues from Newfoundland. We have been very happy to improve the situation of Newfoundland veterans. Many problems



Supply-Veterans Affairs existed in this area when Newfoundland entered confederation. The question of the Royal Newfoundland regiment is one which must receive consideration when the Pension Act is reviewed. I have spoken about the problem of the forestry unit. The hon. member for Burin-Burgeo did not mention the hospital this time and I take it he is well satisfied with the plans we are making for looking after Newfoundland veterans with respect to hospitalization. We are hoping to get construction of the pavilion well under way this year. I do not think there was anything further brought out during the remarks of hon. gentlemen but if there are any more questions I shall be pleased to answer them.


LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to repair an omission in my earlier remarks and support the very kind tribute paid to the chairman of the standing committee on veterans affairs. I do not recall serving on any committee that had a more considerate and conscientious chairman. I believe it is a great credit to the hon. gentleman that the work of the committee was conducted so smoothly.

I gathered from the minister's reaction when I mentioned that I wished to repair an omission that he thought it was the one to which he referred with respect to the hospital. I do not think there is much to be gained by flogging a dead horse. The die has been cast.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

Do not call it a dead horse. It is going to be a live hospital.

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Mr. Carier@

A pavilion is going to be erected for the veterans in Newfounland. I was reserving my remarks on that subject for another item because I thought it would be to the minister's advantage to get off the first item as quickly as possible, but since the minister himself has raised the point I shall deal with it. While we appreciate what is being done we would have been much happier if the minister could have seen his way clear *to providing us with the same facilities provided in other provinces. It is -true that this will improve the services to our veterans but there will still be many disadvantages. The veterans pavilion will still be administered by the general hospital and will not have a separate administration. In some respects present inconveniences will still be retained.

One important cause of inconvenience is the length of time it takes to get medical reports back concerning veterans who are sent for diagnosis. I understand that these reports are sometimes four, five or six months late in coming. If these people were referred to our own institution we would hope that this could be done much more rapidly.

I know all the arguments the department raises because I have explored this situation on a number of occasions. The department says the provincial authorities can exert pressure and get out the reports much faster and that it is in their hands if they want to use their power; but it is not easy to do that because most doctors in the provincial administration are private doctors who are busy people. Perhaps the provincial authorities pay them a retaining fee but it is difficult these days to put pressure on them to supply these reports as rapidly as we need them for the ready processing of the case of our pensioners.

We also hoped that the veterans hospital would house all the local offices of the minister's department so the veteran would not have to go from building to building in different parts of the city. The decision has been made and the plans drawn up to go ahead with this pavilion so we can only thank the minister for what is being done, although we express the hope that even yet it might be possible to overcome some of the difficulties I have outlined.

I wish to say a further word about the Newfoundland foresters in response to the minister's reply. It is true that these people were recruited and sent overseas as civilian units but I should like to point out that this was a decision imposed upon us by another government. At that time Newfoundland did not have representative government. We were governed by a dictatorship at that time, a benevolent one, it is true, but still we had no voice whatever in running our own affairs. That decision was taken for us by the British government in London. It undertook to decide that these foresters had to be recruited on a civilian basis and I may say they were paid on a very niggardly scale. I presume that was done to protect the United Kingdom taxpayer.

There is no doubt in my mind that if we had been running our own affairs at that time the forestry units of world war II would have been recruited in exactly the same way as were the forestry units of world war I. That is the only difference between the units of the two great wars. They did the same work exactly, underwent the same disciplinary measures and were subject to the same regulations.

The British government was in a hurry to get these foresters. It wanted them quickly. They were rushed overseas. Even had they been treated as military units it is unlikely they would have gone overseas with uniforms -because they could work better in civilian clothes than in uniform-and they would not have been held in Newfoundland long enough to have the uniforms made up. They

were rushed over in response to an urgent demand. We are now asking the minister to relieve them of a disadvantage caused by the imposition of another government which certainly did not reflect the wishes of the people of my province.

1 have received many letters from these people. Many contracted tuberculosis and have been invalids for years. Others sustained severe accidents and became incapacitated. In world war I we were running our own affairs and the units were recruited on a military basis but in world war II the situation was different. Those who suffered injuries in world war II cannot achieve recognition for their services. They want the same treatment that is accorded to the units of world war I and other veterans in Canada.

The minister had something to say about the 365 days limit of service in the United Kingdom to become eligible for the benefits of the War Veterans Allowance Act. That was certainly a move in the right direction. We are grateful for that but still you have the same border line and it makes a difference to us in Newfoundland, because prior to confederation any Newfoundlander who was in any branch of the armed services achieved overseas status the minute he left the shores of our island. Once he got out on the high seas he was deemed to be in a theatre of war, and I think rightly so, because the ocean at that time was not free from military hazard. I refer to the early part of 1918. I maintain that our people could not get to England without passing through a theatre of war. I think that same argument applies to the case brought up by the hon. member for Lincoln who made his plea on behalf of the British Canadian who served in the northwest frontiers of India and in Afghanistan. I have had some correspondence from those veterans and I think they have some basis for their request for consideration.

The minister and the department have chosen in their wisdom to accept as a criterion of elibibility the fact whether these veterans were issued with a victory medal. I point out to the minister that that is a very poor basis because the actual basis should be, did he serve in a theatre of war?

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

May I point out to the hon. member that I inherited the acceptance; it was not my acceptance at all; it was accepted long before I became minister.

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

The minister is over there because he undertook to change a lot of things. Now he has the opportunity to do it and we are reminding him of it. Apart from that, if we are going to be reasonable about this, the true basis should be, did he

Supply-Veterans Affairs serve in a theatre of war? Although many of those veterans did not get the victory medal, they did get discharged with a certificate certifying that they had served overseas in a theatre of war. I am asking the minister to accept that certificate as the basis of recognition instead of the victory medal. I think it is a fair request. If the minister will do it he will go a long way toward meeting the wishes of those people who, in any case, are very few in number.

I do not think it is so much for the veterans themselves. They have been in Canada a good many years. Like the rest of us, they are getting along in years. The average of the world war I veteran is 69 and I think they are worried more about their widows than themselves. It is my belief that the people of Canada want their veterans to be treated a little differently from other people. After all, they did-not all of them voluntarily but most of them-offer their services and did serve to the best of their ability and to the extent that their condition, their age and other factors would permit them to. I think it would be a very fine gesture on the part of the Canadian government if it accepted the claims of those people, and I would say it would contrast greatly with the treatment afforded to our foresters in the second world war.

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CCF

William Arnold Peters (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Peters:

Mr. Chairman, I thought the minister in his remarks was going to say something to the effect that consideration was to be given to raising pensions and veterans allowances. I am surprised that some of the organizations, including the Canadian Legion, have been as kind and as considerate of the government and of the department as they have been in the matter of increases in pensions and allowances. A few moments ago I drew a parallel between pensions as they were originally developed and the wages of the pick and shovel labourer. I pointed out the increases that had taken place in the wages of the common labourer and in pensions. At that time the minister rose and said that it was not correct. I had hoped that eventually he would say why it was not correct because I have discussed it with the Legion who originally published the article, and they told me that it is correct and that they are willing to stand behind it. The article has been reproduced in a number of other veterans papers since that time.

I came to the conclusion, at least from my own point of view, that it does probably bear some relationship to what was really intended in Canada. In my opinion in the past we have been able to tell the people of Canada that we in Canada have done as much for our veterans as has any other country in the world. It has always been

Supply-Veterans Affairs the proud boast of the Canadian government, no matter which party was in power, that their treatment has always been impartial; that there have been no political influences in veterans affairs. As a veteran and a member of several veterans organizations I have believed this to be true but, Mr. Chairman, when we take a look at the rates of pensions today and compare them with the cost of living alone-and I would like to use one index, namely the index of wages-we find that the rate of increase in veterans allowances and veterans pensions is about only half the rate of increase in wages of the Canadian people. If we are to maintain our position, and I think we can, to be fair it would seem to me that we should give our veterans the treatment they deserve. We will not go into the reasons why they deserve it. If we are to do this, then we have to maintain the pension in relation to the cost of living. The cost of living is rising a great deal more rapidly than the pension rates.

The minister said that this matter is going to be reviewed. I sympathize with him because I know the Minister of Finance. It is not easy to increase anything in relation to social services these days because money is not easy to come by. The minister did say that it is going to be revised. This affects not only money. There are other ways in which improvements can be made. The minister could stand up and say he cannot increase the pension or the allowance but he is going to try to convince the country that these things should be a part of our social security program, whether veterans affairs or other social security measures.

There are a number of other things, that have already been mentioned. I believe, as a result of the few meetings I was able to attend that most members of the committee were in agreement with the presentations made by most of the organizations, and most of the suggestions made were reasonable. There were representations made by the Canadian non-pension veterans widows, a group of elderly ladies who are few in number and decreasing very rapidly because of their age. I think it was generally conceded by the committee that these elderly ladies should be given some consideration. They had been given the support of the minister and the committee in years gone by, and I would have expected something to happen as a result of that report. Otherwise, what is the point of having a veterans affairs committee every year?

I would suggest that the Legion is not going to be so easy next year. You will have noted, of course, that the Legion did not bother to come to parliament this year.

[Mr. Peters.l

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An hon. Member:

Yes, they did.

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CCF

William Arnold Peters (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Peters:

They made no presentation this year of which I am aware.

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An hon. Member:

Yes, they did.

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July 22, 1960