Mr. J. W. Noseworthy (York South):
Mr. Speaker, since this is an open field day for complaints I wish to use seven or eight of
the remaining ten minutes this evening to register another complaint that has come to me from veterans in my riding. I would hope the complaint or grievance is ill-founded.
I find that as we get further from the war years there is a growing suspicion among veterans' bodies that less and less attention is being paid to that clause in the veterans' charter which gives them some initial preference in the matter of seeking employment in the civil service. Coupled with that is the growing feeling or suspicion that the employment of veterans particularly is gradually passing out of the hands of the civil service commission and being taken over by the heads of government departments.
I have received a number of letters from veterans stressing both these points. Then only a few days ago there came to my desk, as I presume it did to others, a series of resolutions adopted by the dominion civil service war veterans' association. This document contains some 18 resolutions calling attention to the grievances of members of that association, and I find that some of these grievances are in line with those I have received from individual veterans who live in my riding. It is to one or two of those grievances I wish to call the attention of the Secretary of State (Mr. Pinard) and the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Lapointe).
Among these resolutions is one asking that a representative of veterans' organizations be required to sit in as an observer at all civil service examinations. Officers of the Canadian Legion tell me that the practice is fairly generally followed, but I have had instances brought to my attention where veterans have left examinations after being assured by the small group of examiners or interviewers that they were qualified in every respect, only to find perhaps six weeks later that for some reason or another they had failed to pass the test.
Another resolution is to the effect that heads of all departments should be required to adhere to the principle of veterans' preference. The comment made, which is in line with individual grievances I have received, is to the effect that many heads of government departments when making appointments bypass entirely the principle of veterans' preference. Veterans tell me that even where positions are advertised stating that a preference will be given to veterans, upon application for such positions they have found that the positions have been already filled by persons on the government patronage list.
Then here is another resolution and comment. Here is a reputable veterans' organization which claims that veterans with pensionable disabilities lying in hospital are actually informed by letter that unless they maintain better attendance on the job they will be fired. I say that is no way to treat veterans. I suggest that a check-up be made, particularly with this association, to see what evidence there is for this charge.
Here is another charge. It is said that in many instances orders in council are superseded by departmental orders. There is a resolution to the effect that departmental orders be no longer permitted to revoke or change orders in council unless a new order in council has been passed. I say those charges, Mr. Speaker, are very much in line with some of the complaints I have heard and received in letters from veterans in my riding. They show that the further we get away from war the greater the tendency is to forget the debt we owe to veterans, and the greater the tendency to overlook them in favour of those who have not seen service.
I bring this matter to the attention of the government at the request of individual veterans in my riding and in support of the resolutions presented by the dominion civil service war veterans' association.
Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Applewhaite in the chair.