May 27, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


I rise at this time, not for the purpose of retarding the matter which is before the house, but to get some information on questions which appear to be bothering some of the men who are in uniform. I know that one of the essential things if we are to have a proper prosecution of the war is to satisfy the expeditionary force. The men who are going to do the fighting must be assured that they have something to fight for and that the government are paying strict attention to their dependents.
The first matter in which I am interested is set out in a letter which I received to-day from a boy from my own constituency who is now in England. He says that there is considerable criticism within the ranks in England at the present time because, he says, they are paid on a fixed rate of exchange; that is, the pound at the present time is valued at $4.47, and on every $5 they receive in wages they are losing 53 cents. The government should give some recognition to that complaint.
Another matter of which he complains is the differential that exists in the dependents' allowances, to the prejudice of the mother as against the wife. That matter has been raised here, but as far as I am aware, no satisfactory answer has been given.
There is another matter about which considerable complaint exists, and I should like some information on it. According to press reports it is the intention of the government to grant two weeks' leave with subsistence allowance to all members of the Canadian active service force in Canada after they have completed six months' training. According to my information that has not been done. It is reported that some have had leave, but that no subsistence allowance was granted. Many others have not had the furlough. What is the intention of the department of the Minister of National Defence with respect to this matter?
With regard to another matter I have had some trouble prior to coming here, and I know it has occasioned some correspondence with the Department of Pensions and National Health. It is probably a little unusual; nevertheless it exists. What is the regulation of the minister's department in respect of the following category: a married man with a wife and dependants, who was parted before enlistment, but who, in accordance with the court decision, was compelled to support his wife and child before enlistment, neglects to make provision for them? His wrife has presented her marriage certificate and a copy of the court order granting her support. This support had been taken from her by virtue of her husband's enlistment, he having failed
to register at that time. Have there been any complaints of that kind? If so, what is the ruling in such cases?
These are several matters that are pertinent to the welfare of the men in uniform, and in my opinion, if we are to have a proper prosecution of the war, the men who are to do the fighting must be absolutely satisfied that we at home are taking care of all those matters which, however much we may be inclined to regard them as minor details, are nevertheless of major importance to them.

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