November 5, 1919 (13th Parliament, 3rd Session)


James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)



The hon. gentleman's
point is that the Great War Veterans' representatives pointed out to the committee that their plan applied only to those who actually needed assistance. That is quite true. But during our examination we had the greatest difficulty in ascertaining what was meant by actual need, and when the matter was traced down to its finality, as it had to be traced, I think I am right in saying that practically every member of the committee agreed that actual need would not be very difficult to establish. Consequently the propositions as they came to us and as they were viewed by the committee were of such a character as to imply that any general proposals adopted by Parliament that would not reach practically every returned man would not be satisfactory to the men themselves. This was the view that was expressed. It was intimated that not a few but all of the men had suffered loss or hardship, either mental, physical, or financial, and that all should be reached if any attempt was to be made to re-establish the men in civil life. It was not a question of aiding the few. We received suggestions, for example, regarding university students, and it was also suggested that the mortgages which some men had on their places were a considerable burden which they should be assisted in lifting. We received suggestions to the effect that certain of the men had contracted debts which were also in the nature of a burden, and that assistance should be lent in this respect. Suggestions were made that pensions should be increased, and so on all along the line-various suggestions as to the form that re-establishment might take. But, I repeat, it was not represented to our committee that this, that, or the other suggestion should be carried out, but that they should all be adopted in order that the men might be properly re-established in civil life. It was held that the distribution of gratuities already provided for, which we ascertain now will total some $153,000,000, does not meet the requirements and that further grants or gratuities for all these various purposes are necessary and should be voted. It comes to this, Mr. Speaker, that those who represent the Soldiers' organizations in Canada, Mr. Waistell, who represented the G.W.V.A., Mr. Flynn who claimed to represent the large body of soldiers throughout Canada, both worked along practically the same lines although differing materially in detail. They endeavoured to devise plans whereby the State would approve of an arrangement for general cash grants or gratuities to all returned men. Their schemes varied, and they varied very radi-

cally in detail, but nevertheless they reached the same goal.
In so far as the G.W.V.A. proposal is concerned, the cost represents something in the neighbourhood of $400,000,000 while that of Mr. Flynn represents $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars). Both are based upon the plan of a general distribution to all with the proviso that in the case of the G.W.V.A plan, actual need had to be established.
What was Mr. Flynn's proposal? He suggested that the state should raise the money and set aside sufficient to pay every man who had seen service in France $2,000; every man who had gone no farther than England $1,500 and every man whose service was in Canada, regardless of the length o,f that service, $1,000. Under this suggestion, if a man came into the force a day, or two days, or a month, before the armistice he was entitled to $1,000 while men who had seen service in Canada for two, three, or four years, would be entitled to the same amount, $1,000. Under Mr. Flynn's plan no regard was to be paid to the length of the service but only to the place of service. A man who went to France in 1914 and returned the same year, and a man who went to France in 1915 and returned the same year would be entitled to $2,000; whereas, if a man went there in ,1914 and stayed until the end of the war, he would also be entitled to only $2,000 and so on. I need not go over the details; the members of the House followed the proposal made and generally understand the details of it.
Mr. Flynn, in his evidence, admitted, I think, fairly and frankly, that if his scheme were carried out it would contain many discrepancies and inequalities. About the only reply he could give was that the men had considered the whole thing, that they had discussed all these details, that they had realized that these inequalities existed but that they wanted this plan adopted and that therefore it should be adopted regardless of any inequalities or discrepancies in that connection.
According to Mr. Flynn's evidence, the cost of carrying out his proposal would be between $500,000,000 and $600,000,000. Mr. Cox, one of the officials of the Department of Militia and Defence who has had a great deal to do with the payment of existing gratuities was called on to give evidence and he estimated that if Mr. Flynn's proposal was carried out it would cost the country over $1,000,000,000 and that the

annual interest charge thereon would be somewhere in the neighbourhood oi $55,000,000.
Under his proposal Mr. Flynn suggested that the men should be handed the money; that they should be permitted to do as they pleased with it and that there should be no attempt at control in any way. He further suggested that all classes of work now being carried on by the Government should be abandoned, that the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, which has been responsible for taking care of the disabled soldiers, should cease its operations. He also suggested that the Soldiers' Settlement Board should stop its work. He took the ground that in order to deal with all the men on an equality in so far as these matters were concerned the best and the most equitable way was on a basis of a cash grant, on' the understanding that that settled it and that the country should wash its hands of any further responsibility.
I think I have stated his views generally, correctly to the House.
In reference to the G. W. V. A. plan, in many important details it differed from that proposed by Mr. Flynn. In the first place, they would not disturb the work that is now being carried on. They would improve it; they would extend it; they criticise certain features of it but they would not abolish it. In the second place, they suggest that after it is ascertained what amount each man is entitled to, he should not be permitted to get more than $500 in cash. They claim that he should be paid $500 now if he is entitled to it, because of actual need and on account of present necessities. They take the ground that in so far as the balance is concerned, the Government should create a board with branches in the various provinces to see that the balance would go for some form of re-establishment, by which they meant some housing scheme or' some business the man wanted to go into, to care for any mortgage that is on his place, to buy tools and equipment, to look after life insurance, or any of the other forms of assistance that would be desirable, including any payment that he might want to make upon any lands secured from the Soldiers' Settlement Board. * In that respect their plan differs very materially from that presented by Mr. Flynn. The basis of the plan submitted by the representatives of the G. W. V. A. is this: They take the ground that * the basis for any grant or financial assistance to which any man should be entitled should he his place of service and^ the time
of enlistment, and that there should be taken into consideration as well the fact as to whether he was a combatant or not.

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