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


John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)


Before the minister answers I should like to say something about this matter. I was invited to a soldiers' widows meeting in the soldiers' club rooms on Isabella street in Toronto, at which about two hundred were present. Apparently they are organizing and propose to have the organization extend all over Canada, and I have no doubt that in due course unless some redress is given they will come down in a large delegation to present their case, as has been said. On that occasion I took a list of a number of cases and the particulars. I have in mind one or two which are perhaps representative. One was a returned soldier who was in the habit of having fainting spells; apparently his heart was weak. One morning he had a fainting spell. His widow says that on the same day while having lunch he had another spell, and apparently some food became lodged in his throat. The doctor who performed the post mortem reported to the department that the man had choked to death swallowing his food. No one would believe that he deliberately choked himself to death. I do

not want to pass any comment on what the doctor did, but the fact is that his widow did not receive any compensation, although before his death the man was receiving pension.
Recently a returned soldier trying to make ends meet had gone to northern Ontario and taken a position I believe at Collins, northwest of Port Arthur. Being unable to carry on, on account of weakness, he decided to walk to the station some twenty or more miles away, and it appears that he fell on the road and was frozen to death in sight of the station. The post mortem report was that he died from natural causes, having been frozen to death. I have nothing but the very kindest words to say of the department; I have found the officials at all times considerate and anxious to help, and they are no doubt doing the best they can, but apparently the law does not permit them to deal with a case such as I have just mentioned, in which the coroner finds that the returned soldier died from this or that cause unattributable to war service. I am convinced from the number of cases I have looked into that while the department has done splendidly, if the officials were given a chance to exercise their discretion as to the cause of death, a large number of these war widows would be receiving consideration. I want to give my support to what was said by the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross), who also attended one of these meetings of the war widows of Toronto.

Full View