June 19, 1961

PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

The purpose of bringing in this change by way of a resolution is this. It is occasioned by the fact that it might involve a financial obligation on the crown. Consequently we brought it in preceding the consideration of the bill. It strikes out a clause dealing with the widow of a recipient who dies outside of Canada. The clause as it stands in the bill at the moment means that such a widow would have to apply for an allowance within 12 months from the date

of the recipient's death. In the standing committee on veterans affairs it was considered that this was an unnecessary restriction to place in the bill. We have agreed with that view and consequently I am suggesting that it be now deleted. The widows of recipients are known to the Department of Veterans Affairs and we would not wish any widow to be deprived of an allowance that was her due simply because she had failed to make application within a period of 12 months.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten

Liberal

Mr. Batten:

I should like to support this resolution which I think is important but should not require a great deal of discussion. I think that the original paragraph was much too restrictive. One can easily conceive of a situation in which a widow would not be eligible for war veterans' allowance within the first year after the death of her husband and would therefore not apply; but if she were not to apply within the first 12 months she would not be eligible for the allowance. I think this is a much more reasonable regulation and I would support it.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I rise to express briefly our pleasure at the introduction of this resolution which in effect accepts the recommendation of the Canadian Legion before the committee and the recommendation of the committee. While the amendment will affect only a limited number of veterans widows, prior to this time they have suffered, in our opinion, a measure of injustice. The matter has been brought to the attention of the government by hon. members on both sides of the house in the last year or so as a result of their experience of particular cases. The Canadian Legion and other organizations had experience of similar cases which were brought to their attention and as a result they made recommendations before the committee and gave very careful explanations of the reasons for those recommendations.

May I say again that we are very pleased the minister has introduced this resolution which further improves the amendments to the War Veterans Allowance Act which we expect to consider very soon.

Resolution reported and concurred in and referred to the committee of the whole on Bill No. C-101.

Topic:   WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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Motion agreed to.


AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.

PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Gordon Churchill (Minisier of Veterans Affairs) moved

that the house go into committee of the whole to consider Bill No. C-101, to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act, 1952.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Flynn in the chair.

On clause 1.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Mr. Chairman, I have no intention of making a lengthy address at this stage of the bill. We have given very careful consideration to the whole problem. We had a discussion at the resolution stage on May 16 and debate on second reading on May 31. Since then the bill has received very careful study by the standing committee on veterans affairs and has now come back to the committee of the whole for consideration.

As I pointed out on those other occasions, the main amendment proposed in the bill involves a 20 per cent increase across the board for people receiving war veterans allowance and a larger increase for orphan children. The other amendments, as we come to them one by one, will indicate changes which will improve the administration of the act.

The committee may wish to ask certain questions concerning these various amendments. Hon. members may wish to spend some time discussing some aspects of them, but in view of the fact that the standing committee on veterans affairs undertook an intensive study of the bill and received representations from interested organizations it may be that we will not have to take too much time this evening in considering the bill. This bill will be of considerable benefit to veterans and their dependents, numbering approximately 70,000, who are under the administration of the war veterans allowance board.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten

Liberal

Mr. Bafien:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to say just a few words on the first clause of this bill. The bill was studied very carefully in the standing committee and the various clauses were discussed. With regard to clause 1, I agree with the increase in allowance given to veterans because it brings the allowance they have been receiving more in line with the increase which has been given under another veterans act. As we go through the different clauses I may wish to ask one or two questions, but I have no further general remarks to make on the bill at this stage.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, I do not think there will be a very lengthy debate on this committee stage of the bill because we had a thorough debate on second reading and the bill was referred to the standing committee and considered very carefully there. The committee heard representations from the Canadian Legion and the Canadian corps association, and there were written representations from other veterans organizations.

90205-6-416J

War Veterans Allowance Act

The witnesses who represented the veterans organizations were questioned by the members of the committee and gave further explanations of the recommendations contained in their briefs and the reasons for introducing those recommendations.

In addition to that the officials of the department very carefully explained the present circumstances with respect to the administration of the act, the effect of the amendments on the administration and the effect on the veterans and dependents concerned. I might say that the Canadian Legion brief first of all expressed its belief in the value of the standing committee on veterans affairs. I quote from the brief:

We believe that continuation of the policy of referring legislative changes to veterans affairs committees where we can offer suggestions and information assures the veterans of Canada that the legislation affecting their welfare will receive careful study.

The legion also expressed its appreciation of this legislation by saying:

We feel that the introduction of Bill C-101, an act to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act, indicates that the government has been influenced by the recommendations which we have placed before it.

They went on to say:

We thank the government for introducing these amendments to the War Veterans Allowance Act at this session of parliament. We realize that the speech from the throne in November made no mention of this legislation, and we are sure that Canada's veterans, particularly those in receipt of war veterans allowances, will be most pleased with the changes, especially the increases in rates.

They were particularly pleased, I think, because of the result of the amendments to the Pension Act. It was brought out during the debate and in the committee studying the act that there were some 13,000 war veterans allowance recipients who were also pensioners and who received no benefit from the increases under the Pension Act. This legislation, as the minister said, will be of advantage to 70,000 war veterans allowance recipients and will remedy what we considered to be an unintentional injustice suffered by the 13,000 pensioners who are recipients of war veterans allowance.

As we consider the various measures contained in this bill I may wish to bring to the attention of the committee the proposals made by the Canadian Legion. I might say that the committee, after its study of the legislation, directed the attention of the government to the recommendations made by the Canadian Legion and other veterans organizations for further amendments. All I wish to say at this point is that we trust

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War Veterans Allowance Act the government will give these veterans organizations' recommendations directed to it by the committee sympathy and favourable consideration.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

Mr. Chairman, I realize this is the second veterans pension act we have had before us this session. Of course we in this group support this bill. We have discussed this bill at the resolution stage and the second reading stage, it was referred to the veterans affairs committee and it is now being considered in committee of the whole. Because this is the last opportunity I should like to ask the Minister of Veterans Affairs if consideration has been given to a certain matter and if by any chance the hon. gentleman contemplates any amendment of this act to give recognition to a forgotten group of people. I refer to the merchant seamen who were in the front line of war. Thousands of Canadians died on merchant ships in the front line. They have never been recognized by any public act in Canada. I should like to ask the minister, taking advantage of this discussion on clause 1, which is the only opportunity I have, whether consideration is being given in this measure or any other to those who survived as far as recognition by Canada in the matter of pensions is concerned.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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PC

Oscar William Weichel

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Weichel:

I had no opportunity of taking part in the discussion which took place on the resolution stage of this bill to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act and at this time I do not want to delay the bill. However, as a disabled veteran of the first world war and one who has been in close contact with some of these veterans from the first world war I feel sure this amendment will be of great benefit to the recipients who in many cases have served in both wars.

I am pleased, on looking over the bill, to see some of the changes which are to be made, especially the addition of time taken to travel to England and back again-in my case, 14 days going over and 10 days coming back. In some cases this extension will enable a number of veterans to qualify. I should like to commend the minister and the government on bringing in this fine legislation.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

I do not often commend the government but I should like to do so on this occasion. I think this is a very good bill. I welcome it on behalf of many people in my constituency who will benefit from it. I think it is timely and worth while, and I should like to thank the government for introducing it.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

I should like to answer the hon. member for Vancouver East who raised a question concerning merchant seamen. I have given consideration to this problem affecting merchant seamen. It was one of the

first questions I raised with my departmental officials when I assumed this porfolio last fall.

Along with others, I have a great deal of admiration for merchant seamen who served in many instances in such perilous conditions during war time. I admit, frankly, that had I been asked to perform some of the duties undertaken by merchant seamen I might have been somewhat reluctant to come forward quickly.

A question with regard to merchant seamen was raised in the standing committee on veterans affairs, and my parliamentary secretary answered the question there. It amounts to this-that although there is a difficulty in bringing merchant seamen under the provisions of the War Veterans Allowance Act as it stands now because of the requirements set out in the act we think, nevertheless, that merchant seamen might be dealt with more properly under the civilian war pensions and allowances act. We are giving consideration to this problem. If this could be done it would obviate the necessity of declaring merchant seamen to be veterans under the definition which appears in the War Veterans Allowance Act. I agree with the hon. member for Vancouver East and with others who have raised this question that the problem has to be tackled and dealt with. I do not at all disguise my sympathy for the merchant seamen who are not at the present time benefiting under the War Veterans Allowance Act. Let us not forget, however, that those who were disabled have been taken care of.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I had not intended to intervene in this debate-

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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?

An hon. Member:

The old, old story.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

-because we are anxious to get this legislation through and the hour is getting late, but what the minister has just said has caused me to rise and make a few remarks at this point.

I am grateful to the minister for telling the committee that this matter is under consideration but I would urge him to give consideration to bringing the merchant seamen under the War Veterans Allowance Act rather than under the civilian war pensions and allowances act as he has just suggested, because whatever act you bring these seamen under you will have to grapple with the problem of service and one of the big problems of the merchant navy is that there are so many different groups with so many different kinds of service-service on inland waters, service on coastal waters and service on the high seas. I do not think all of them can qualify, but I want to point out that this particular act which we are considering now, the War

Veterans Allowance Act, was set up for just such cases as these-for people who rendered service to their country in time of need and who are not qualified to receive regular service pensions. They were not wounded, they were not disabled, and perhaps there was some question as to whether they could be classed as veterans. I think this is where we should change our thinking. It is not enough to say that a person is a veteran because he served in a certain way. That, I think, is wrong thinking. Any man is a veteran who volunteered his services to his country in time of war and who risked his life in the service of his country. I will point out that the casualties in the merchant marine were often higher than in the regular service. A man can do no more than give his life. Of those who were spared I have many in my own district who are crippled with arthritis because of the soaking in the water that they underwent for hours, sometimes for days. I have others who are crippled with tuberculosis because they were cramped up in small quarters aboard ships. I have others who are crippled for other reasons traceable to their service in wartime. This act was set up to deal with such cases. If we call these people civilians we are throwing away the value of their service. We are saying to them that because they served in the merchant navy or because they were getting a certain rate of pay they are not veterans. I do not think that has anything to do with the definition of a veteran. A veteran is an individual who serves his country voluntarily in time of need. Surely these people are just as worthy and deserving of benefits under this act as those individuals in the other categories we have brought in.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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PC

Frank Exton Lennard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lennard:

Nobody is arguing with you.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

Oh, yes they are. The minister suggested we had to keep away from thinking about bringing these individuals under the War Veterans Allowance Act, not considering them as veterans but as civilians.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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PC

Frank Exton Lennard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lennard:

And he is right.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I do not think he is right. A veteran is not a veteran because he puts on a uniform. Many veterans are drawing benefits under this act who never saw service or took any risk. Why should we decide just because they wore a uniform, they are any more worthy, and should receive the benefits of this legislation, than those individuals who served in the merchant marine? I should like to urge the minister to cast off this kind of thinking and to devise some means of bringing these individuals under the terms of this legislation, which has been set up to look

War Veterans Allowance Act after those individuals who cannot qualify for a pension in any other way.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE RATES OF ALLOWANCES AND INCOME CEILINGS, ETC.
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June 19, 1961