July 9, 1980

?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Francis in the chair.


LIB

Cyril Lloyd Francis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall clause 2 carry?

July 9, 1980

On clause 2-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

Allan Bruce McKinnon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McKinnon:

Mr. Chairman, 1 wish to speak for just a couple of moments on this clause. With respect to the remarks which the minister has just made, 1 want to say that I wish he had made the correction earlier; it would have saved me from doing a lot of mathematics concerning the 15,000 figure rather than 1,500. 1 also share the feelings of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre about this. As there are so few involved, it might be possible to treat them a little better.

Second, 1 would like to speak about the war veterans allowance. I welcome the minister's comments about that. I accept his word, of course, that people over 65 will not suffer, which is referred to in Hansard. With due respect, I would like to point out that it was his speech which confused me, not the bill. 1 can honestly say that I got a copy of this bill after ten o'clock this morning. I know it is very difficult with the short time they gave us, and I imagine there was a great deal of racing around done in the department. Nevertheless, that is when I got my copy and I used the minister's speech more than I did the bill when I spoke.

However, at page 11 of the minister's speech it does say "a new war veterans' ceiling and at the same time assess as income all OAS and GIS payments made to recipients over 65". That left me with the impression that, if you are to assess that as income, then it will have a detrimental effect on them.

On page 12 of the minister's speech it also says "by doing this and reducing OAS and GIS exemptions by an identical amount each year we will have eliminated the gap".

That is about all I wanted to comment on. 1 am pleased with the remarks that have been made about the bill and the preceding bill, namely C-28. I believe that my colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, has some more detailed questions.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, as I said by way of an interjection, 1 regretted that the minister had to make a correction to his speech and tell us that only 1,500 widows would get the benefit of this legislation on October 1 instead of 15,000. To me that makes it all the more urgent that the main-flow in this bill be corrected.

I realize there has not been very much time since the speeches made on second reading were delivered. However, 1 wonder if the minister has had a chance to reconsider whether, when we get to class 14 on page 11, he will agree to my proposed amendment to strike out that part of the clause which has a delaying effect.

The other question 1 would like to put to the minister is, in effect, the same one which has just been commented on by the hon. member for Victoria. Is it crystal clear with respect to the War Veterans Allowance Act changes that the ceiling on permissible income is being raised so that no WVA recipient will lose any portion of the OAS and GIS that he is now receiving, in particular so that he will not lose the $35. Is my interpretation correct that the changes in the War Veterans Allowance Act mean that from here on automatically any

Veterans' Pensions

increases in old age security and the guaranteed income supplement will result in that same increase in the ceiling on permissible income?

So 1 have two questions to put to the minister: one about making the changes in the 48 per cent rule effective across the board on October 1; and the other, the assurance about the provision in the War Veterans Allowance Act.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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LIB

Maurice Dupras

Liberal

Mr. Dupras:

Mr. Chairman, 1 too want to express my satisfaction and pleasure in welcoming the minister back in the House. I know he was hospitalized and that it was only yesterday when he was released from the hospital. I also know how intent he was on bringing this legislation forward before the House adjourned this summer.

That is why, Mr. Chairman, I congratulate myself on being a member of a government and Parliament who offer to my former fellow members of the Canadian armed forces the most generous, the most adequate benefits in the world. As those benefits are being paid to those who have been called the most courageous in the world, the best troops a country could have to protect it, I think it is only fair for the Canadian government to choose to increase benefits that have remained the same since 1973, so that our veterans, those who fought for the allies, those who fought the war of 1939-45 and earlier wars, can enjoy the most generous pensions in the world. I am very happy with this new bill, Mr. Chairman, and trust it will be passed without further delay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

Thomas Gordon Towers

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Towers:

Mr. Chairman, there are two points that I would like to bring to the minister's attention. I also take this opportunity to bring them to the attention of the officials who are in the gallery today.

One particular area to which I think the department and the officials should give consideration concerns the grey area in the granting of pensions. There is some doubt as to whether or not the pension should be either granted or increased. Certainly as a representative of those people, I would be most pleased if the department officials on the pension board or the pension commission would relent just a little and make it easier for the pensioner to get the benefit that probably-more than likely- is his just due. It is this grey area where I think the benefits should go to the individual. I believe it is something that probably would not cost the government that much and it would certainly satisfy a great number of the pensioners involved.

Second, I do not think it is fair for the spouse's income to be associated in any way with whatever should be accruing and could be accruing to the pensioner himself. I know that in some cases the pensioner would have funds available to him if it were not for the wife's income. This is something which is worthy of consideration, and perhaps the minister might have some comment on that.

Veterans' Pensions

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Mr. Chairman, I did not get up on second reading so that we could get the bill through quickly. However, 1 would like to make a brief submission to the minister now and ask him what he is prepared to do on the matter.

First, 1 would like to add my agreement and support for what is being done today and say that I support the remarks made by my colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

There is still a very small group of veterans in Canada who are totally left out, either by recognition, rights or entitlement to benefits under our veterans' legislation. This small group who have an association were in Ottawa a few weeks ago, and at that time 1 believe they met with the minister and with members of the Liberal caucus, the Conservative caucus and our caucus. The people about whom I am speaking, if the minister will hear my representation, are probably at most the 200 surviving veterans of the Spanish civil war who were members of the Mackenzie-Papineau battalion who were the first to fight against the Fascists. They were made outlaws in their own country because they violated the Foreign Enlistment Act. They journeyed to Europe by many various and devious ways, to England, through France and into northern Spain. They are in their own right and by all definitions of the word heroes. Many were decorated by the republican government of Spain at that time. Many were wounded, captured, tortured and died in the fight against fascism.

Had the rest of the western democracies listened to them, we may have headed off Hitler sooner than we finally did. They were vilified by some in their own countries, and certainly ignored and deserted by their country. All they asked for when they met with parliamentarians a few weeks ago was recognition as veterans. They were not asking for benefits or anything else, just recognition that they no longer be considered outlaws in our own country.

I hope the minister will take this to his cabinet colleagues so that they do in fact receive recognition as veterans, and more. Upon receiving that recognition, they should automatically get the right to receive veterans' benefits, whether it be disability pensions-and any medical practitioner could assure the minister as to whether their disability is attributable to war wounds-or war veterans allowance. I doubt if very many would even ask for those benefits. We could undo the wrong of all these years if we made the gesture of recognizing these gentlemen as veterans. I do not know if it is still on the statutes, but if it is we could possibly repeal the Foreign Enlistment Act. That may be sufficient.

As a result of the minister's meetings with them, is he agreeable to trying to provide that recognition for at most, 1 suspect, 200? They only know of 125 but there may be a few more scattered around Canada who have not come forward and made themselves known. Is the minister giving consideration to that? Will he take whatever action is necessary, either by regulation, legislation or whatever else is required, to include as veterans members of the Mackenzie-Papineau bat-

July 9, 198C

talion of the Spanish civil war, with all the rights and entitle ments thereto?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Mr. Chairman, I am a little confused about the1 procedure. 1 thought we were going to get answers as we went along. If we could, I would like that, because I am somewhat confused about a couple of matters that, if we were going to Standing committee, would be raised there. I need to know and I im not sure how to find out since we just saw the billH * , * today, what is counted as exempt income in calculating thc^^HSB

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some cases they vary. The recipient of war veterans allowance today probably receives more than ever before in the history of Canada. Let us use a figure of $6,000, which is not the actual figure; 1 do not have it here today. If their income is over that, they do not receive WVA. Does that answer the hon. member's question? It does not.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Mr. Chairman, the minister indicated in his speech and the documents indicate that the discrepancy today between, for example, a single individual under 65 in receipt of the WVA is receiving something in the order of $70 a month less than somebody who is over 65, and the reason for that is the effect of the exemption for the income that is referred to in the speech as CIS. What is indicated is an intent to change the deduction or to change the exemption category to reduce the level of OAS and CIS income which will count as exempt income.

If 1 can put the question again, what now counts as exempt income in calculating the WVA, CIS or OAS and CIS?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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LIB

Daniel Joseph MacDonald (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald:

As 1 understand what the questioner is referring to, $2.88 is old age security and the balance is GIS. He is also in receipt of WVA. 1 might tell the hon. member that many times, unless he has the full details, WVA, OAS and GIS is very confusing. If the answer is not satisfactory, please feel free to put it forward again and we will see if we can get an answer.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

What I am trying to find out, Mr. Chairman, is where the $70 discrepancy comes from. Can the minister give me some figures which show me how the $70 difference is composed? Is it composed entirely of GIS? It is composed of GIS and OAS? Is it composed of some other exempt income? I understood it to be, and I was really trying to clarify it, OAS and GIS. My problem then became, since OAS and GIS is higher than $70 if you are in receipt of GIS, where does the $70 figure come from that is the basis of the attempt to equalize the payments of which we all approve?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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LIB

Daniel Joseph MacDonald (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald:

Mr. Chairman, I have to confess that I find the hon. member's question a little confusing. When the hon. member is talking of pensions, could he determine for me whether he is talking of the under 65 or over 65?

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July 9, 1980

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Both, Mr. Chairman. The minister indicates in his speech that the difference we are trying to resolve is an income difference, a maximum income award to those who have no other income and that a pensioner in receipt of OAS and GIS, and who then gets a WVA over that, is about $70 a month more than somebody who is under 65 who therefore is not in receipt of OAS and GIS.

My problem is this, and maybe 1 can explain it this way. When you become 65 and start to receive OAS and GIS, you clearly receive more than $70 a month OAS and GIS. What I am trying to find out is how does the difference only get down to $70? I presume the answer is that OAS is counted now when you are establishing the eligible WVA with somebody who is over 65 in receipt of OAS.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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LIB

Daniel Joseph MacDonald (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald:

Yes, the hon. member is right, it is counted. The $70 he is referring to is really something of a slipback to the fellow below 65. The hon. member has really answered his own question. This is no longer going to be a problem. We have erased this today in our legislation. The fellow of 65 on OAS and other supplements receives a greater amount of money than his colleague or comrade under 65. With the legislation we will put through today, we will be erasing that. It will be on a comparative basis. 1 hope that answers the hon. member's question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

I would like to ask the minister one last question. At some point in his speech he said, and I made a note, that he is talking about changing the regulations. Is he proposing to change the regulations to change the categories that are now exempt income? He said in his speech that he would be changing the category, that he would be changing the exemption with regard to OAS-GIS income.

I need to be clear on this because I have a large number of veterans in Sunnybrook in my riding. In practice, I understand that to mean the only change in the regulations will not be OAS, because it is already not exempt; the only change in the regulations would be to take GIS income, which has up until now been exempt, and to make it no longer exempt. That will be the only change in the regulations. Is that correct?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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LIB

Daniel Joseph MacDonald (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald:

Plus $2.88 OAS.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

I wonder if I could be helpful on that one point. I imagine that where the hon. member is confused is that he is thinking that maybe all of OAS or all of GIS has been exempt income. That has never been the case. The exempt income, which is now $70, is an accumulation of several of these things which have gone through as increases either in OAS or GIS and which now add up to $70. As the minister has just said, two dollars and some cents of OAS is exempt income, and this means that $60 odd of GIS is now exempt income. These are being removed and the ceiling on the permissible income is being raised, so that in the end there will be no change in the net amount which veterans over 65 receive.

Veterans' Pensions

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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PC

Thomas Gordon Towers

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Towers:

I wonder, Mr. Chairman, whether the minister would comment on the point I made earlier, that is to say, the discriminatory aspect of the pension program-the fact that married couples are discriminated against when the income of the wife is used to prohibit WVA being given to the husband, though if a couple were living common law the income of the wife would not affect the pension of the gentleman concerned. To my mind, this is wrong and I believe the rules should be changed because the present practice is most discriminatory.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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LIB

Daniel Joseph MacDonald (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald:

Mr. Chairman, a husband and wife are treated as a family and their incomes are counted together. This can reduce WVA payments, as the hon. member indicated. What the hon. member is asking, I take it, is that the wife's income should not be counted. But, you know, income could be as high as $50,000. So in these cases we apply the rule which applies to GIS.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   STATUTE LAW (MILITARY AND CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS, COMPENSATION AND ALLOWANCES) AMENDMENT ACT, 1980 MEASURE RESPECTING PENSIONS OF VETERANS
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July 9, 1980