July 22, 1960 (24th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Alfred Johnson Brooks (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

This is the height of the dinner hour. The administrative cost of running our hospitals will increase somewhat this year over the actual expenditure we made in the year 1959-60, increasing from about $55,900,000 to some $57,367,000. Of that total cost, however, we expect to recover some $12,730,000. These recoveries are increasing, due largely to payments from the provinces for treatment given to patients having entitlement under provincial hospital insurance plans.
I should mention that our hospital construction program is proceeding satisfactorily. The replacement of obsolete accommodation at Shaughnessy hospital, Vancouver, is now nearing completion and the patients have been moved into this new accommodation. A similar replacement project has been started at Westminster hospital, London. Architects' plans are being prepared for the construction of a veterans pavillion in connection with the general hospital in St. John's, Newfoundland, and preliminary planning is now being done in the department for extensive alterations to Queen Mary veterans hospital, Montreal, and Ste. Anne's hospital at Ste. Anne de Bellevue.
As an instance of the lively interest taken by the members of the standing committee on veterans affairs in our hospital facilities I should mention that last year the committee visited Sunnybrook hospital, Toronto, and this year they expressed a wish to inspect 79951-0-426J
Supply-Veterans Affairs older accommodation in order that they might appreciate the problems faced by the department in providing treatment in obsolescent accommodation. Accordingly, on Wednesday May 25 the committee visited Queen Mary veterans hospital at Montreal and our institution at Ste. Anne de Bellevue. I understand they considered their visit most informative, as they got valuable firsthand information on the difficulties of providing first class modern treatment under somewhat difficult conditions.
The amount we expect to spend this year on hospital construction and improvements and equipment has been estimated at $4,937,000. The medical research and education features of our treatment services are expected to continue at the same level as last year, as are the prosthetic services offered by the department.
I should now like to say a few words with respect to the Veterans Land Act. As hon. members know, this act was amended last year. We now have some indication of the effects of the improvements in this legislation which the amendments brought about. These amendments increased the maximum amounts available to full time farmers to $20,000 and to small holders to $10,000, and in part II of the act housing assistance was raised to $10,000.
The greatest impact on the administration has been created by the amendments respecting full-time farmers. These will considerably increase the work load during the current year. It has been found necessary to make the staff fully familiar with the farm appraisal and loan principles which must be followed in order that the increased amounts may be invested wisely for the basic purposes for which they were intended, the acquisition or development of economic family farm units. The estimated cost of administration this year is nevertheless almost exactly the same as the total allotment for last year.
We found that after a slow start there was an increase of more than 25 per cent in the number of farm loans approved in the last nine months of 1959-60 over the previous year, and that financial assistance to small holders and commercial fishermen showed an increase in number of about 20 per cent over that experienced before the amendments. House construction continues at a fairly high level, with 1,436 new houses commenced, a slight reduction compared to the previous year, due in the main to veterans deferring their plans until after the amendments became effective. Our total investment last year for the purchase of land, buildings, livestock and farm machinery was about $2.5 million greater than in 1958-59. Our estimate for this item
Supply-Veterans Affairs for the current year, some $28,625,000, is the same as for last year, part of which, however, remained unexpended at the end of the year. We anticipate that this year the total expenditure will increase.
A number of developments in the organization of the veterans land administration have occurred as a result of the establishment of the farm credit corporation, which is authorized to make arrangements with the director of the veterans land administration for the utilization of his staff in the administration of the Farm Credit Act. We are glad to be able to assist the corporation with our trained and experienced staff in handling its increased work load. As the Farm Credit Act and the Veterans Land Act have basically similar purposes and provisions, it has been found desirable that loaning principles and policies of both organizations should be closely related and consistent. Arrangements have accordingly been made for the joint use of the credit advisers on the strength of the veterans land administration and the corporation. The arrangement is working out very satisfactorily. Close and friendly liaison and co-operation of these staffs will continue to provide good service to the farmers of this country.
Hon. members will notice from the estimates that the total amount of money required for pensions under the Pension Act will be slightly less for the current year than the total expended last year. We expect that total pensions will amount to some $148,940,000, whereas we spent last year about $149,650,000. This small reduction does not indicate, of course, any change in the policy of the commission, who continue to maintain their high tradition for thoroughness and consistency in their interpretation of the Pension Act. The number of pensions in payment on March 31 of this year was 188,626, which showed a small reduction of 1,686 from the number in payment a year earlier.
This reduction is largely due to a decline in the number of pensions payable for service in world war I, whose veterans now find the years taking their toll of both pensioners and their widows. The world war II liability continues to increase but as yet at a slower rate than the world war I liability is declining. The estimate for the administration expenses of the commission, $2,496,000, represents a slight decrease compared to the administration expenses met with during the year just ended, although the volume of work even with the decline in the total number of pensions has not shown a corresponding reduction.
I now come to the operations of the war veterans allowance board. It is interesting to note that the total amount of allowances

expected to be paid during this year, $62,079,000, is over $4 million greater than was spent in the year 1959-60. The total number of recipients of allowances has continued to increase rather rapidly. For example, the number in payment on December 31, 1959 was 67,534 as compared with 64,125 one year earlier. Of the 1959 total, 47,393 were in payment to veterans, and the remainder to widows, orphans and dependants.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would point out that with respect to all these estimates combined, the administrative expenses of the department, of the Canadian pension commission and of the war veterans allowance board are tending to decrease, as the estimated total for 1960-61 of about $63,950,000 is less by $1,830,000 than the provision for 1959-60. The group of expenditures which can be classified as payments under legislation or regulation, and which total nearly $222 million, are expected in the present year to show an increase of some $4,200,000 over those we now estimate as having been made during the year just ended.
We should shortly be going over these estimates item by item, Mr. Chairman, and I shall be very pleased at any time to give more detailed information to the committee.

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