June 2, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Guysborough) :

Judging from the few cases which have come under my own observations I think the Pension Board sometimes give a very strict interpretation to the Act. I drew the attention of the chairman yesterday to the case of a young man who was serving in the military forces in Cape Breton. He was allowed out for a stroll and during his walk came across a live wire. He was unacquainted with the danger connected with electricity-he had been brought up on a farm thirty miles away from any electrical works, and had probably never heard of a live wire before. He lifted the wire with his hand, and in doing so was injured so seriously that his fingers had to be removed. Now the decision of the board was that he came to this accident through his own carelessness and was not entitled to any compensation whatever. The young man himself took the ground, and his father also, that if he had remained at home looking after matters on the farm he would not have suffered this injury; he was in the service of the country at the time, he was properly there, and it was owing to his inexperience that the accident happened. I do not know what view would be taken by the members of the committee in regard to a case of that kind, but it occurs to me that it was somewhat strict for the Pension Board to decide that owing to the fact that this accident happened through his own carelessness, as hey say, he was not entitled to anything in the way of remuneration. The chairman of the committee has said that the Pension Act is virtually an insurance. If it is a case of insurance it would be covered by the ordinary insurance law. For example if he was an employee of any industry and an accident of that nature happened to him, he would be entitled to compensation under the compensation law of any of the provinces. My question is therefore-why should the pension insurance be dealt with in a stricter sense than is usual in the case of any of our industries? I think the committee wifi

understand what I mean. If that young man had been in the employ of the Steel Works, or of a coal mining company, or any of these industries that come under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the fact that he grasped a wire with his hand would not disentitle him to the usual compensation. That used to be the old doctrine under the common law that a man was disentitled to any compensation if he was, in a measure, careless himself and contributed to the accident; but that is not the doctrine which prevails now under the compensation law as it exists in the various provinces. I think, therefore, that more generous treatment ought to be taken in cases of the kind.

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