May 16, 1972

NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

"Knowles" is right.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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PC

William David Knowles

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Knowles (Norfolk-Haldimand):

I join, I think, with every member of the House in expressing my agreement with the general tenor of the amendments contained in this legislation which is known as Bill C-208. It is designed to give assistance to our veterans, many of whom are living on pension or war veterans allowance, and are seeing their pensions and allowances eroded by the rapid rise in the cost of living. So that anything that can be done for those people I am sure every member of the House welcomes. Therefore, it follows that we agree with the principle of automatic adjustment of veterans allowances and pensions, and especially with an arithmetic formula which is tied to a specific time date whereby veterans organizations do not have to come constantly cap in hand to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Laing) asking that their pensions be upgraded to meet the rising cost of living; that will now be done automatically and we are all happy about that.

Naturally, we also want to give the bill speedy second reading and get it into the hands of the committee where we shall have a greater opportunity to examine the legislation in detail and to obtain some answers from the minister and his officials regarding some of the apparent contradictions and anomalies that appear from a reading of the legislation at the present time.

We would also like some answers to the specific matters outlined in detail by the previous speaker, as a result of which it looks as though the increase in veterans allowances, announced with great fanfare, will actually turn out to be a mere pittance. We hope that this will not be the case and that the minister will seriously consider the representations that have been made to him, with which I know all members on this side of the House agree.

I also concur with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) that we have in the present Minister of Veterans Affairs a man who is both understanding and co-operative, a man I personally would like to see continue on in the department. I feel he is a man of compassion, one who might be able to persuade his officials to bring about some far-reaching reform in our veterans legislation, especially as it affects war veterans allowances and the pensions. With the attitude he has I know he will be very receptive to some of the representations and suggestions that we are making to him today.

The changes that we are talking about, which come into effect on January 1, affect pensions and allowances only. It seems to me it would have been far more meaningful, and would have given the veterans a real boost, if the government had also taken another look at the basic pension rate and adjusted it in line with the increase in the cost of living. As we all know, the basic pension rate is the rate of an unskilled labourer in the public service of Canada. Over the years and up to the present time, this rate has been allowed to lag further and further behind the increase in the cost of living. At the present time the

Pension Act and Other Acts

basic pension rate is $3,504. The average annual earnings of unskilled labour in the public service stands at $4,550 which means a difference of $1,046. This amounts to a lag behind what they really should be receiving of about 30 per cent, according to the formula understood by all veterans organizations, namely that the basic pension rate should be related to that of unskilled labour. The amount of money needed to overcome a 30 per cent lag would be considerable. By any reasonable calculation, this would amount to $71.3 million.

* (1610)

I believe it is proper that we should take a look at whether or not we can afford this type of increase, which on the surface would appear to be a considerable sum of money. The table I wish to place on the record shows the relationship between the gross national product in Canada and the expenditure on pensions for disability pensioners and their dependants arising from World War I and World War II. In the year 1930, the gross national product was $5,728 million. The pension liability in that year was $37 million. The gross national product was 154.8 times the pension payments. In 1965, the gross national product had risen to $52,056 million. The pension liability had also increased to $181 million. The gross national product at that time was 232.4 times the amount of the pension liability. What I am saying is that in 1930 the gross national product was 154.8 times the pension liability and in 1965 it was 232.4 times the pension liability.

Therefore, it would appear that Canada is well able to afford a substantial increase in pension liability, always bearing in mind in addition the following facts: the expenditure in respect of World War I veterans, and even World War II veterans, will commence to decline very rapidly in the future. The law of attrition takes effect. These people are reaching the age at which the grim reaper takes his toll. The number of pensioners decreases at a rapid rate. When we speak of $71 million we are not thinking of this as a continuing amount year after year but rather as a rapidly declining figure. I believe this should be taken into account. I repeat that the gross national product is now 232 times as large as the pension liability, and I believe this figure surely reflects the government's ability to pay a substantially increased amount to our war veterans.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs having announced the arithmetical formula, surely it would be a very simple matter to also adapt the basic pension rate to a similar formula. This is the sum and substance of the brief presented by the National Council of Veterans Organizations on different occasions and in particular by the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in March of this year. I think, as I have shown, it is not as unreasonable a request as one might think when one mentions an increase of $71 million.

I said I would be brief. We want to see this bill pass second reading and be referred to the committee. Therefore, I shall honour my pledge to be brief. I have touched only on one point, namely, that we should make some provision to adjust the basic pension. Others of my colleagues will be dealing with other specific subjects at which I believe the minister should take a very close look. Amendments will be suggested when we reach the clause

May 16, 1972

Pension Act and Other Acts

by clause consideration in the Committee on Veterans Affairs. In particular, my colleagues will be dealing with the very question raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) concerning the anomaly which appears to exist with relation to war veterans allowance, old age security pensions and the guaranteed income supplement. There is considerable confusion, and we want some enlightenment on this touchy issue because if the veteran is to receive an increase of a few odd cents after all this fanfare about increased pensions, he will be a disappointed and frustrated man. Surely, this is no way to treat the men who gave so much of their lives to this country in time of danger.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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PC

Marcel Joseph Aimé Lambert

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Marcel Lambert (Edmonton West):

Mr. Speaker, the other afternoon when I spoke on the budget proposals of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner), I dwelt at some length and with, I have been told, considerable emphasis on what I consider to be the anomaly that is being proposed by the Minister of Finance in relation to those war veterans allowance recipients who would get the guaranteed income supplement. Nothing had been said up until that point which changed the purport of my remarks. As a matter of fact, if the truth be known, the Minister of Finance on that occasion nodded his head in agreement that this was to be the case. I do not know what transpired between the time I spoke on Thursday afternoon and the time the minister introduced this bill on Friday afternoon. However, there was an indication from the minister, as recorded at page 2,233 of Hansard that he would be seeking authority for an order in council, under section 22 and I presume paragraph (d), to increase the maximum income permissible to the recipients of war veterans allowance.

As has been indicated by my colleague from Norfolk-Haldimand and by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), it would be very interesting to know just how high the ceiling is to be raised. After all, there is some confusion. I am satisfied there is confusion concerning precisely how the cost of living escalator will affect the war veterans allowance portion of the permissible income of the individual, taking into account the escalator attached to the guaranteed income supplement, the road along which the minister is directed to travel and in respect of which he has no choice. This has always been a very burning question. I am more than amazed at the attitude within the department and the War Veterans Allowance Board that this is the way he should go; that is, when we come to an income support measure based upon war service the veteran shall avail himself of the general civilian provisions before he can choose to receive benefits under the war veterans allowance. I find this is an extraordinary position to have taken and certainly, if I were in a position at any time to do so, I would want to see a thorough revision of that position.

In the presentation of the budget and the budget documents, which I have in my hands, as well as in the comments on television and in the press, a great deal was made regarding the separation of the cost of living escalator clause from the guaranteed income supplement. Immediately people started calculating on a 3.6 per cent

formula. I say that the 3.6 per cent formula is a fraud because that is not the true increase in the cost of living over the previous year. The formula should take into account the number of points of increase in the consumer price index because, as I said in my remarks on the budget speech, 3.6 per cent of the base of 100 is merely 3.6 points, but 3.6 per cent of 130 is actually 4.8 points. There is a world of difference. On the same basis, if the increase curve on the consumer price index were to go up at the same rate each year, the government, whatever party may be in power, could pat itself on the back and quote percentile figures showing that in actual fact the cost of living index was going down when that would not be the truth. This has been the basis of the increases in the cost of living formula for all the pensions, both civilian and veteran. I say it is a hoax to that extent. Of course, in principle it is an acceptable step forward, as we again indicated the other day, but a remarkable reversal of the attitude of the government and of all the ministers involved from the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) down as indicated by their votes on those particular proposals put forward by the opposition. But now that we are on the road to an election, all these goodies come floating down.

The guaranteed income supplement increase is not $15, it is $12.12. There was a blur between the cost of living escalator and the increase in the guaranteed income supplement. Separate paragraphs were used, but everywhere it stated very carefully that the combined increase in OAS-GIS shall be $15. Therefore, instead of getting an extra $30 in GIS with a cost of living escalator provision attached, the increase in GIS for the war veteran should be $24.24 per couple, with the cost of living index making up the difference to $30. So, let us be clear once and for all what that increase is.

I shall not take the House through the complicated calculations put on the record by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), but few if any recipients of the war veterans allowance get the full allowance. It is not possible because of the combination of old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. What is remarkable is that in the case of a recipient of the war veterans allowance, if his wife is five years younger than he is, has been working for five years and then retires, she gets a small payment under the Canada Pension Plan to which she contributed. This is actually a return to her of moneys which she paid in, not revenues. This payment is chargeable as income to the recipient of war veterans allowance. His wife's Canada Pension Plan payment is not income and should not be considered as income.

In the same way, if a war veteran's wife who had been a schoolteacher or a nurse in previous years had had enough foresight to buy an annuity, albeit a small one, whether a Dominion of Canada annuity or an annuity with an insurance company, when payments from it are received by either the recipient of a GIS or war veteran's allowance they are charged as income. Even though there is a difference in allocation, these payments are charged money in the hands of the wife belonging to the couple and disentitling the husband to a war veteran's allowance. I find that terribly unjust in those particular cases.

May 16, 1972

I know that sections of the War Veterans Allowance Act impose a means test, and I believe that if the Minister of Finance and his colleague, the Minister of Veterans Affairs really had the interest of the war veteran at heart they would have done something with section 6 of that act. Section 6 defines exempt income, and it should include a provision covering these cases. What is even worse is that section 8 of the act, which establishes values of personal property in excess of $1,250 where the veteran and his spouse own personal property of value in excess of $2,500, is ignored. There is also the requirement that property shall not exceed $10,000 in value. That is based upon 1965 values, Mr. Speaker, when the cost of living index stood at 107.4. The cost of living index in April, 1972, stood at 138.2, an increase of 30.8 points, or some 27 per cent. Yet those figures still remain on the statute book and constitute a bar.

I hope the minister will make a reply to the points that we have raised from this side of the House. Certain hesitant steps have been taken, but now that the act is open for review we should tackle elimination of the ridiculous rule of residence in Canada for one year prior to qualification. I invite the minister between now and election day, when he must vacate office, to acquaint himself with the situation of people qualified for war veterans allowance and who live in the United Kingdom or elsewhere outside of Canada. The representations on this point must make up a file a foot high.

I have tried to persuade the minister's predecessors on this point, but all the time we get the same assertion to the effect that there are administrative difficulties involved. That is utter nonsense, Mr. Speaker. Where there is a will there is a way, but unfortunately the government has not shown a will to deal with this matter. The Canadian Veterans Association of the United Kingdom, Colonel Victor Jones, and many others have presented brief after brief on this point. But the point is not being dealt with in this bill. There are great gaps in the amendments which are being presented. As I say, some hesitant steps are being taken. This would be a welcome opportunity to make the necessary changes.

The bill need not be limited to the budgetary proposals of the Minister of Finance. I certainly hope we can get some satisfactory answers from the minister to the representations made by hon. members in this debate. I also hope that the legislation will not remain long in committee because, as has been pointed out, there is no automatic $15 or $30 being added to cheques in this case. Individual calculations must be made. If the officials take as long to make these calculations as they do to make public service superannuation calculations, many a veteran will have passed on to his reward before he gets an increased cheque. However, I commend the legislation to hon. members, notwithstanding the many gaps in it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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SC

Roland Godin

Social Credit

Mr. Roland Godin (Portneuf):

Mr. Speaker, I feel it is my duty to seize the opportunity afforded by the consideration of Bill C-208 to make known my views concerning the situation in which veterans are placed at present.

Pension Act and Other Acts

This bill provides for a much-needed and long-awaited increase in allowances. I have strong reservations, however, as to the final result of such measure.

Obviously, wide propaganda is going to be given to the implementation of this bill. This is nothing new, as the propoganda given to government measures is always wide enough to demonstrate the advantages of measures taken at several levels-whether they are provincial or federal measures, they are always given enough propaganda so that people expect something extraordinary.

At present, for instance, a number of rural Canadians are led to believe that the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation assumes a good share of the rents of urban dwellers, who can easily benefit from the advantages offered by this organization, while in fact the contrary is true, since the number of families in this country which receive those allowances designed to assist them in paying their rents is minimal compared with the number of those who have to pay a fairly high rent to that same organization.

If we go back a few years, in the field of agriculture, for instance, because of wide propaganda given to settlers, to all the people who were new to agriculture, veteran farmers used to believe that they were being forsaken and that settlers had a much easier life since they could obtain grants right, left and center whenever they applied for them. That was a most erroneous concept of the life of settlers, since there was no relation whatsoever between the allowances they actually received and those which had been promised to them on the eve of an election.

In other words, governments promise a lot and give very little in relation to existing needs and to efforts made.

Today, Mr. Speaker, this bill proposes an increase of 3i per cent, and this is just fantastic. It is one step forward. It is better than nothing. In my opinion, it is time, now more than ever, to take this opportunity to congratulate the minister who is at present piloting this bill.

However, since I have known for many years the veterans who live in the Portneuf riding, which I am pleased to represent, I can say that the measure before us does not fully meet their present needs. And if we refer to the increase in the cost of living, to the dollar devaluation, we can see that the new benefits fall far from the real needs of veterans, their widows or their children.

Mr. Speaker, I shall indulge, at this stage, and for my colleagues' information, in reading the exchange of correspondence about one case. This is a letter which was addressed to the former Minister of Veterans' Affairs (Mr. Dube) on January 26, 1971.1 quote:

The above-mentioned person, who is a veteran's widow, has let me know that she receives only $145 per month, as a pension.

Considering that this lady is paralyzed in one arm, and should therefore get a maid's help;

Considering that her bad health requires expensive drugs;

Considering that the pension of Pierre Laporte's widow was established in relation to the cost of living, would you be so kind as to review the case of this Canadian woman, who suffers unfair hardships, if one considers the amount of goods and services that are offered in this country.

Thank you for your kind co-operation.

Sincerely yours

May 16, 1972

Pension Act and Other Acts

On April 16,1 received the following answer:

Dear Mr. Godin:

My assistants having given me a report on the case of Mrs. Jane Doe from Ville Les Saules, I can now answer the letter you sent me on that matter.

Following your letter from January 26 last, a department official went to see Mrs. Doe to inquire about her situation and try to find a way of providing her with additional help under the existing legislation. At the time of that visit, the income of Mrs. Doe was made of benefits she receives under the Old Age Security Act and the War Veterans' Allowance Act; those benefits provided her with the maximum income authorized for a widow under the War Veterans' Allowance Act, namely $145 per month.

As the increase in maximum yearly allowances was approved by Parliament, the monthly income of Mrs. Doe is thus $16 higher.

On the faith of information obtained by the department official during his interview with Mrs. Doe, it seems that the coming into force of those income increases would greatly contribute to iron out your correspondent's financial difficulties.

During the interview, our representative has brought out all the possibilities of assistance available to Mrs. Doe, particularly from the Army Welfare Fund and similar organizations-

-such as the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul and other organizations.

On with the quotation:

Unfortunately, it seems that Mrs. Doe's needs did not come under the criteria established by the administrators of these organizations.

I thank you for your interest in the welfare of this veteran's widow and I sincerely regret that the only additional assistance available to her is that resulting from the recent amendments to the War Veterans' Allowance Act.

Yours truly,

Jean-Eudes Dube

Mr. Speaker, I personally visited this lady who is 66 years old. She is the widow of a soldier and she lives in a hovel where she has to pay $250 a year for heat. She wants to move, as the song says, but she cannot afford to do so. Apart from the rent, she has to pay additional taxes for snow removal, garbage removal, etc. Being truly short of money, she has even closed the switch on her hot water tank because, she says, "in this way, I save $2.50 per month".

This lady also tells me: I do not understand why the minister can do nothing to help me, and I do not understand why I should be content with $161 a month when Mrs. Laporte is receiving $16,000 a year. I know that Mr. Laporte died while on duty; my husband also died while in the service. Why is there such a big difference between my pension and that of Mrs. Laporte?

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that Mrs. Laporte needs $16,000 a year. But, truly, I remain puzzled faced with the analysis made of the two cases. As Mr. Laporte was a provincial minister, Mrs. Laporte is a provincial widow who receives $16,000 a year from the federal government. In the case of the widow of a federal employee, the limit is $161 a month.

To my mind, this situation is not only ridiculous but it smacks of the federal government program, and specially that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), which incites people to revolution. One cannot look at these two situations and remain cool over the whole thing, it is so revolt-

ing. It is revolting for the serviceman's widows who is ill-treated and it is revolting for all her relatives and friends.

Unfortunately, servicemen's widow are not the only ones who are deprived. We have the impression that the present situation is really wished for by the Prime Minister, who seems pleased to see people rising against each other, being jealous of one another.

Mr. Speaker, an increase in allowances for the eligible is fine. However, I would not want to let go unnoticed the qualification method for these pensions.

The disability clause is the one that is most confusing. The treatment inflicted on some veterans following certain tests they have to undergo in front of the physician of the department responsible for these allowances, is unbelievable.

As an illustration of what actually happens, I will read into the record a letter concerning an application made by a veteran. This letter was mailed on January 8, 1970 by the Canadian Pension Commission to a veteran of the Port-neuf riding and I quote:

Dear Sir:

With reference to our former correspondence and to your letter received last December 29,1 have to inform you that following the recent consideration of your case by the appeal board, the commission has decided that your eligibility for the benefits of the pension act in respect-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order. I hesitate to let the hon. member proceed with his comments in the way he presently does. I have to call his attention to the fact that the bill now before the House obviously purports to amend the War Veterans' Allowance Act, but I do not think that the Chair could allow, at this moment, a general debate on all aspects of that legislation.

The bill now before us provides for an annual increase in pensions, based on the cost of living index, but I do not believe that the Chair can, on this basis, authorize the hon. member to deal with the allocation of pensions or with decisions of the Canadian Pension Commission.

The hon. member who spoke a while ago before the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin) has shown a tendency to wander in the same field and when the Chair was about to intervene because he was speaking about Canadian veterans living in the United Kingdom, he reverted to the question now being debated. I would ask the hon. member for Portneuf even though he may wish the Chair to allow him to complete reading of this letter, to come back to the matter under consideration as soon as possible.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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SC

Roland Godin

Social Credit

Mr. Godin:

Mr. Speaker, I see that you realize that this is the time if ever to discuss the fate of veterans. After all, if we do not discuss it today I wonder when we will be able to do so. However, not only will I comply with your request, but I will spare the House the first letter which I was reading and quote only the reply to it.

This letter was addressed to me by the Department of Veterans Affairs and followed on the correspondence already exchanged. It reads in part:

According to the information which I have just received, Mr. Smith is eligible under the Pension Act because of his hallux valgus with plantar calluses, an ailment which he suffered prior to his enlistment and which was aggravated in a proportion of two

May 16, 1972

Pension Act and Other Acts

filths during his service in the armed forces on a military operations theatre. The reports from the medical examination which he underwent last February indicate that the total disability caused by this ailment is estimated at 10 per cent while that which makes him eligible for a pension on the basis of a two fifths aggravation is 4 per cent. Therefore, Mr. Smith is not eligible for monthly pension payments, but under the act he has been granted compensation in the amount of-

I also have here a letter from the wife of a veteran who says that her husband has to stay in hospital twice a year. In 1964, his invalidity had been estimated at 25 per cent, and his pension was based on 5 per cent of that 25 per cent, which in fact entitles him to $21.90 a month. I do not find that exorbitant. Frankly, to grant 3.5 per cent of $21.90 is almost to make a laughing stock of the veterans.

Now, doctors do not all agree on diagnoses. This pensioner has pulmonary problems, but who knows when, the day or the hour, his problems started? In a letter his wife wrote me dated May 9, she states that their family doctor recommends that her husband take a one-year rest. But as he has a family, and obligations, he cannot affort to take it. He is 51 years old.

Whatever their age, the veterans should be looked after because, in my view, they probably deserve more than the afflicted in the concentration camps of the communist countries.

As His Excellency the Governor General stated in the Speech from the Throne, if our country is rich, there is no reason to force to work the veterans who are tired, worn out and sick, who have killed themselves with work. All the more so as there are enough healthy people looking for work to replace those who deserve a rest.

Mr. Speaker, considering this evidence and considering these victims, I am inclined to believe that certain doctors employed by the Canadian Pensions Commission have become dishonest. We are under the impression that these people must justify their position by doing everything they can to harm those who are discharged on account of illness or disability as a result of years devoted to the defence of our country and even of other countries.

In order to rate a serviceman below 5 per cent, Mr. Speaker, as we have seen in the letter signed by the minister, they go so far as to speak of 2/5 of 10 per cent.

When it comes to experience, we all know that the Canadian government, through the Canadian Armed Forces, leaves no stone unturned. They test aircraft, aircraft carriers, hydrofoils. We send our soldiers for a while in the Baffin Island area to find out how people can live there. Savings are never important; experiences are what matters. In my opinion it is therefore not normal that these loads fall on veterans who always have to tighten their belt.

Since there are a great many such cases I take the liberty of asking the minister to do his utmost and order an investigation into that matter. If some Canadian Pension Commission officers are not acting or working properly, they should be replaced as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, if some legislation provides for the protection of animals there should be one providing for the security of human beings, especially veterans and their families.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION

SUBJECT MATTER OF QUESTIONS TO BE DEBATED

LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order, please. Before recognizing the next hon. member it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 40, to inform the House that the questions to be raised at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for St. John's West (Mr. Carter)-Fisheries-Atlantic Salmon-Suggested boycott of Danish goods; the hon. member for Regina East (Mr. Burton)-Regional Economic Expansion-Position of discussions with provinces on programs; the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Mazankowski)-Industry-Versatile Manufacturing Limited-Proposed expansion in United States rather than Canada-Discussions with company officials.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SUBJECT MATTER OF QUESTIONS TO BE DEBATED
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

PENSION ACT. WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES


The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Laing that Bill C-208, to amend the Pension Act* the War Veterans Allowance Act, the Civilian War Pensions and Allowance Act, the Children of War Dead (Education Assistance) Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, to provide for the annual adjustment of pensions and allowances payable thereunder, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.


LIB

Arthur Laing (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Laing:

Mr. Speaker, in replying to some questions-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT. WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order, please. May I bring to the minister's attention that another hon. member rose at the same time as he rose. Knowing that if the minister speaks at this time he will close debate, I think the Chair ought to recognize the other hon. member who rose. The hon. member for Algoma.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT. WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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LIB

Maurice Brydon Foster (Chief Government Whip's assistant)

Liberal

Mr. Maurice Foster (Algoma):

Mr. Speaker, I believe some discussions are going on with a view to continuing debate on this bill through the private members' hour. I do not know whether the House leaders want to comment at this time or whether we shall hear comments on this subject at five o'clock. At any rate, I believe discussions to that effect are going on; perhaps we shall know at five o'clock what is to happen.

May I comment briefly on the bill before the House this afternoon, Bill C-208, which makes provision for a cost of living escalator clause to apply to the War Veterans Allowance Act, the Pension Act, the Civilian War Pensions and Allowance Act and the Children of War Dead (Education Assistance) Act. In one way it is unfortunate,

May 16, 1972

Pension Act and Other Acts

perhaps, that this bill is being debated at this time or that it will be debated tonight, because the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs is holding its hearings on the reference from this House concerning prisoners of war. The National Prisoners of War Association Will be presenting a brief, as will be the Dieppe Veterans and Prisoners of War Association. I hope that time for debate will be extended this afternoon, because some of us will be busy in that committee this evening and will only have an opportunity to speak this afternoon.

I believe that the principle set out in this bill, namely, applying a cost of living formula to veterans pensions and allowances in order to provide for annual increases, is one of the most important principles that we shall introduce in connection with any pension scheme. In the past, the 2 per cent escalation applied to the Canada Pension Plan and guaranteed income supplement; there has been no similar allowance or increase for our veterans. In the past they were granted a lump sum increase to offset the effects of inflation. This bill, therefore, will let veterans know exactly the increases that they are to get, because their allowances and pensions will increase as the cost of living increases. This increase is to apply not only to the basic pension itself but also to the attendant allowances, the clothing allowance, the dependent parent allowance, the exceptional incapacity allowance and other allowances which may be of benefit to the pensioner.

The minister made clear on Friday that he does not consider this increase as a lump sum increase for meeting the demands that the National Veterans Association has made to the department and to the government. Rather, this is to be an increase which will compensate for the effects of inflation. In other words, if our dollars because of inflation are to be cheaper, our veterans are to get more dollars.

The minister made it clear that the basic rate of the Canadian veterans pension is under careful study. I believe that the National Veterans Association made it clear that they want to see the basic rate increased to $4,550, which I believe is close to the basic, average labour wage paid in the federal civil service. I am sure that many hon. members who represent veterans will want to see the government moving as quickly as possible in that direction. I know that veterans associations have responded by pointing out that the increase which has been granted will only offset the effects of inflation, and that it is not like an actual lump sum increase which would bring pension benefits to levels that the associations feel are desirable.

The amount of veterans legislation that this parliament has dealt with, especially in the last year, is notable. Last year, under Bill C-203, changes were made which established the Pension Review Board; the Bureau of Pensions Advocates was established as an independent body. That bill also introduced exceptional incapacity allowances and special benefits for Hong Kong veterans as well as the benefit of a doubt provision. Also, there were increases last year in the war veterans allowance and veterans pensions of 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. I should like to add my words of support for this bill. I understand that approximately 200,000 veterans across this country will benefit from this bill. The minister has said that he wants this bill passed as soon as possible so

that veterans will benefit as quickly as possible. To that I lend my support.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT. WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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PC

John Chester MacRae

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacRae:

Mr. Speaker, may I call it five o'clock?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT. WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order, please. It being five o'clock, the House will now proceed to private members' business as listed in today's order paper, namely, public bills, private bills and notices of motions.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT. WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND OTHER ACTS AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ANNUAL ADJUSTMENT OF PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
Permalink

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS

CRIMINAL CODE


On the order: Private members' public bills: February 25, 1972-Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs of Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (abolition of corporal punishment).- Mr. MacDonald (Egmont).


May 16, 1972