May 2, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)

?

The MINISTER OP MILITIA AND DEFENCE.

No. I may explain that under this Bill it is not intended to take any percentage from the pay of the non-commissioned officers and men. There is no deduction from the pay of the North-west mounted police, and the pay of these soldiers is so small that I think it would not be fair to ask privates and non-commissioned officers to contribute in that way. Now, it has seemed to me that there could be no possible reason which moved parliament to grant a pension to the North-west mounted police force, which does not apply equally to the permanent force of this country. That being the case, if there were no stronger reasons, it seems to me that it is a simple act of justice to apply the same law to the permanent force as has been applied to the North-west mounted police. I have just pointed out that our doing so will entail upon the country only a very moderate expense indeed. In this connection, I will repeat what I said a moment ago : That it is important to the success of
the work of the permanent force, that there should be permanency. We have got to do one thing or the other; we have either got to give these men much larger pay than they receive now, or else we must do without good men. I think it would be better to give this pension rather than increase the pay. The men who have served for many years become old, and have found it absolutely impossible, because of the low pay they'received to save anything, so that they are turned out on the world late in life to earn their living without anything in hand. The Militia Department is asked every year to give employment to some of these men, and that we do as well as we can, but how much better it would be to provide a pension by which, when these men have served their full term, they will be able to have something to live upon during the declining years of their life. I may point out in this connection that they must serve twenty years before they are entitled to a pension, or if through any disability they are unable to serve twenty years, then after fifteen years they will receive a pension. The pension is one-fiftieth of their pay for every year they have served up to two-thirds of their total pay ; that is the maximum they can receive under this law.
Now, Mr. Speaker, with reference to the other branch of this resolution which refers to officers, I desire to make this explanation. It has been said that this would involve a very serious charge upon the treasury. I am able to say that this is absolutely not the case. There will be no increased charge upon the treasury whatever, and I will point out how. At the present moment under the existing law, or under the existing order in council by which officers are retired from the service, any officer who has reached the age limit or is obliged to retire for other cause, receives on retirement, one-tenth of his pay for every year that he has served. To illustrate, suppose an officer has served twenty years, and suppose his pay was $2,000 a year, on retirement that officer would receive a gratuity equal to two years pay which would be $4,000. Without any desire to reflect upon the prudence of officers, I am bound to say that the experience of the department in reference to this method of treating them has been very unfortunate. We have had cases where officers have retired and have drawn large sums of money-some as high as $7,000 or $8,000-but from the very fact of their having lived for years without any experience in business, they have not been able to make the best use of the gratuity paid them. We find them coming back after a few years, perhaps after a few months, asking the Department of Militia, and asking the government to give them something to do, because they are again absolutely without means. I will not refer to anv cases by name, but I may say that

there are painful cases of this kind where officers who have commanded districts in this country are to-day asking us to give
them, and are glad to get SI.25 a day to keep body and soul together, by taking care of a drill hall or doing some menial service of that kind. Now, that is not creditable to the country.
I propose then that this money which we have been paying under the order in council shall still be paid, but that it shall be paid in the form of an annuity. In other words, with that 10 per cent, for each year that the officer has served, instead of a gratuity, we shall buy for that officer an annuity. Well, Mr. Speaker, this would not be sufficient, and so I have decided to ask the officers themselves to contribute over and above this amount, a sufficient sum to give them a respectable retiring annuity. I may say that the amount which I am changing into the form of an annuity; the amount which we have been in the habit of giving for many years past would be enough to purchase one-half of a sufficient annuity. I have, after consulting on the matter with the superintendent of insurance, ascertained that a tax of 5 per cent upon the pay of the officers, added to that which they are already entitled to. and put into the consolidated fund, would at the rate of 34 per cent-I may say that the interest lias been computed at that low rate in all these calculations-at the rate of 3| per cent it would secure for these officers the pension which is mentioned in the resolution, and which I intend to incorporate in the Bill. I think,
then. I have demonstrated that the proposal which I bring before the House, so far as the officers are concerned, does not involve an additional dollar of expense or taxation on the people of this country ; and therefore, although I would have been prepared to go further, I think no one in this House can object to the proposal.
The Bill which I intend to found on these resolutions has been drawn from several sources. The old Civil Service Superannuation Act has been used as a basis for that portion of the Bill which applies to tlie officers. I have already explained that that portion which applies to non-commissioned officers and men is a literal copy of the North-west Mounted Police Pension Act, which has been in force since 1889. That portion which applies to officers' wives and children is taken from the Royal Warrant for pay. The rate which we ask the officers to contribute, namely, 5 per cent, is a large rate, much larger than the civil service were asked to contribute under the old Civil1 Service Superannuation Act. But we had in view the fact that we intended to give not only officers but officers' wives the benefit of this law. and we felt that the officers, in view of that fact, would be willing to contribute the o per cent which we ask of them.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   PENSIONS FOR PERMANENT FORCE.
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