March 2, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)

CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Yes, approximately. Many of those are boys who went to England in 1937, 1938 and 1939 because they could not get jobs in this country and therefore went into the
R.A.F. as Canadians. During their period of service in the R.A.F. they are subject to income tax. A pilot officer, for example, is paid approximately $120 a month in Canadian money. Out of that he has to pay approximately $35 in income tax. These young men have been paying that all during their period of service with the R.A.F. United States personnel serving in the R.A.F. were also subject to that income tax for, I believe, a couple of years. They were successful in having it eliminated and in having returned to them all the money that they had paid in income tax up until such time as they received exemption. Before these young men are finally transferred to the R.C.A.F. I hope that that particular angle will be given consideration.
I believe that these boys have a right to expect the same treatment in the matter of transfer and in the matter of return of income tax paid to the British government during their period of service as the Americans received.
There are many angles to the money side of it, but I am not going to go into them now, because I think every member of the committee is familiar with them. There is the matter of dependents' allowance. There is the matter of differential in rates. The one point I should like to focus the minister's attention on is income tax. I reiterate, I think these boys have a right to a return of the income tax that they paid during their period in the service. Another point that the minister made and that I should like to comment on briefly is the fear he stressed that when the war is over, boys returning from the services may come back with their minds focused on themselves individually, with the complex built up in their minds that the first back is the first on the job; get what you can for yourself regardless of what happens to the fellow who is coming behind. I believe the minister is quite correct in assuming that perhaps that will be the situation.
Under present conditions there are not many prospects for those in the service coming back, and the natural tendency is to recognize that and to try to do something for themselves. In connection with that very fear the minister expressed the opinion that it was wrong to keep them in uniform when they come back. He likened the situation to the last war, and of course made the observation that there was [DOT] quite a difference in attitude and opinion to-day because of the changes made since the last war. I agree with him in most of his remarks, but I make one exception. I have expressed the opinion time and time again and I wish to reiterate it now. Because of the
1092 COMMONS
War Appropriation-Air Services
situation that exists in Canada to-day, with the lack of planning to absorb the service personnel returning and the million of war workers in war industries that will be closed, and without any opportunity of finding employment for a large percentage of them, I think it would be wrong to take the army, the air force and the navy back and to discharge them to civilian life, route them through the channels of selective service, unemployment service and the civilian agencies that are being built up. Because of that situation the very fear that the minister expresses is the one we shall have to face. The proper thing to do in a situation that we all fear along with the minister is to guarantee to the returning personnel not the relief that is paid now-because $14.20 a week to a married man or $10.20 to a single person is relief in the final analysis; it lasts for only a certain number of months and the mechanics of getting it are not very easy through welfare agencies, selective service, unemployment insurance, and so forth; there is a lot of discontent wrapped up in these regulations, although they look all right on paper-but something more definite.
I stated in my remarks on the navy estimates that I thought the camps which are established in Canada should be fully utilized in the demobilization period. Instead of bringing the service personnel back to where there is no possibility of work for them, discharging them and sending them across the country, breaking up as it were the units that were formed overseas, units that fought together and will work cooperatively together as a unit if they are kept together, we should keep them together. If they are discharged and sent throughout the country an individualistic spirit will be bred among them, and they will be made the prey of any demagogue who comes along, waves a flag and tells them that he has a solution. I believe if they were brought back, placed in their camps and the educational machinery we have to-day utilized while they are in uniform in camps- and I would not haVe them drilled and booted around on the parade ground and required to salute every second officer they meet and all that kind of stuff-and routed back to gainful employment in teams in order that they might be able to work their way back to civil life, there would be no need to fear that which the minister expressed. I do not think the fear of the individualistic selfish spirit being bred can be avoided in any other way.
I merely leave this thought with the minister; I elaborated upon it when the army estimates were under consideration. Unless drastic changes are made in the structure of [Mr. Gj.U.'S.l
society in Canada; unless greater employment opportunity than we can see now is provided for those coming out of the service, we shall have discontent and strife and everything that goes with it. Every care will have to be taken in the demobilization period to see that those now in the services are at least kept on the same basis of pay that they are receiving at the present time. You cannot take a man who has an income of $130 or $150 a month, drop him down to $14.20 a week, give him a suit of civilian clothes, send him out to look for a job, and then expect him to be at all happy or proud of himself after the contribution he has made to the cause of his country. I think in all three branches of the service men are making their maximum contribution in the work for which they have the greatest aptitude. I believe that in rebuilding Canada, if we are to get the support of those now in the services we shall have to do everything in our power to make this period of reconstruction just as glamorous as we made the fighting during the war. Otherwise, we shall not be able to interest the boys who are in the service to-day and who will be coming back from the excitement of war and everything that goes with it, whom we shall expect to settle down to the humdrum job of just working out an existence in Canada. We have to start rebuilding Canada, making it the kind of country that those in the service believe they are fighting for, and it seems to me the best way to do that is to have the teams which are fighting the war together kept together for instructional purposes, educated and sent out to do jobs which will provide them with a livelihood for themselves and their families. And this must be done before they leave the service, before they are sent out into a hard, cruel world to look after themselves.
Another classification was mentioned by the minister; I refer to the radio mechanics. The minister emphasized their position, scattered all over the globe, working alone or in groups of two or three. In regard to these men there is a complaint I have heard, though I do not know whether it is justified; the minister should know. In his remarks he stated that these mechanics are largely isolated and are attached to the R.A.F., but that the responsibility for their pay, promotions and so on rests with the Canadian government. The complaint I hear in regard to these men is that in the matter of promotion, while a large number of them are classified as noncommissioned officers they are merely shadow N.C.O.'s, in that they merely receive the pay of a leading aircraftman even after years of

War Appropriation-Air Services
service. If that is so, I think the minister should try to rectify that situation, because these men are making quite a sacrifice in carrying on their work.
There are many other questions in which I am interested, but I think I shall reserve any further discussion until the specific items are under consideration.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE FOR AIR
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