Under this item I should
like to direct the attention of the minister to complaints that have come to me, and I suppose to other members of parliament also, from different soldier organizations. I think the chief complaint is that the scale of relief afforded by the department to pensioners has not been equal to the scale afforded by many municipalities to those receiving unemployment relief. I had a communication from the Canadian War Disability Pensioners' Association of Winnipeg in which they say:
No clothing allowance is made to the needy pensioner whereas the civilians receive the necessary clothing in greater Winnipeg, either through the Greater Winnipeg Welfare Association or through the city council.
Many of our needy pensioners have been out of employment for an extended period. They are not only needy and destitute but many of them and their families are without clothing absolutely to protect them against this climate. If they appeal to the welfare association of the city or municipal councils, they are told they must look to the Department of Pensions and National Health. When they go to the department they are told that there is no provision for clothing. The result is obvious. . Many of our needy pensioners are without clothing, and it is impossible to provide their children with the necessary clothing to permit them to attend school.
The matter of clothing is not a matter of minor consideration but a very substantial one.
During the past week the temperature has registered in Greater Winnipeg continuously below zero ranging from 20 to 35 degrees.
Then they have another complaint with regard to dependent children:
The scale of relief allowance to the dependents of needy pensioners applies only to boys sixteen years of age and under and girls seventeen years of age and under. If they exceed that age no allowance is made in respect thereof, even if they are unemployed and dependent, whereas relief to civilians is based upon the number of dependents in the family irrespective of age.
I think those matters should be cleared up by the minister before this item passes.
While I am on my feet perhaps I might direct attention to the next complaint as well, which has to do with the purchase of fuel:
Civilian needy in greater Winnipeg are enabled through a special arrangement by the city of Winnipeg to purchase their fuel at what might be termed " wholesale prices," in any event at prices substantially less than the retail price, whereas needy pensioners must pay the retail price which it can be conservatively stated is at least 25 per cent in excess of the price paid by the civilian needy on direct relief.
The first question I should like to direct to the minister is with regard to the clothing for pensioners in Winnipeg. Is the department continuing to pursue that policy of refusing to give a clothing allowance to pensioners and their families?