February 25, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There has been organized in the city of Calgary a substantial body of women whose husbands, having served overseas, are now dead. These women are in a desperate condition. The contention-and I think it is one which it is difficult to overcome-is that their husbands died, and I am putting it mildly, as they request me to do, earlier in life than they would have but for the service they gave the country. That is putting it on a low basis. Their contention is that being deprived of the ability of their husbands to earn a living for either themselves or their children they are now in almost necessitous circumstances; and they seek from the government a recognition of their position, just as the government has recognized the condition of the soldier who receives assistance through the relief organization that has been set up by the department.
At first I thought that the case was much simpler than it is. Looking into the matter in detail I find many cases that are known to me personally. I have a list of them beside me and it is quite clear that the

Supply-Pensions-European War
husbands of these women served in some instances with great distinction, but in every instance at the risk of their lives, in France and elsewhere, mostly in a theatre of war. I do not say that all of them did, but for the most part they were in a theatre of war. The husbands of these women were not pensioned at the time of their death; some of them had received some slight recognition which was cut off, but the major number that I am speaking of now are cases in which the husband was not receiving a pension at the time of his death. The efforts that they have made to secure recognition by the department have failed because it was determined by the appropriate persons that the deaths could not be attributable to service. The same matter was discussed the other evening. In the case of many of these widows-I did not wish to go into it then, for obvious reasons, because you do not want to make it more difficult to deal with the simple problem by mixing it with others-this problem in one aspect is a simple one. We do care for necessitous cases of disabled soldiers who are unable to take care of themselves and whose condition is attributable to the war. If they have left behind them widows and children, I suggest to the minister, when he is framing his legislation, that if an annuity cannot be provided, the widow and children should at least be given the same treatment as that which would be given to the soldier if he were living and found himself in a similar condition of necessity.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH
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