Mr. Chairman, owing
to the fact that a bill has been brought in as a result of the labours of the pensions committee, which bill will ameliorate many of the conditions pertaining under the act, the necessity of my speaking at length is obviated. However, there are one or two matters I should like to discuss with the minister.
Under present conditions there is a possibility, and indeed the probability, that many
Supply-Soldier Land Settlement
settlers will be forced to evacuate in the near future owing to dispossession being made of their property. I have already suggested to the minister that no action should be taken in this regard until next spring. I notice an item in an Ottawa paper advising men not to go to Calgary as there are at present 2,000 unemployed in that city. Under such conditions as these, I would suggest that if possible no foreclosures should take place until next spring. If a family is forced off the land they will go into the bread line and some public body will have to support them, and I think the minister will agree with me that the outside cost to the government of carrying these people, even though they may be hopelessly behind in their payments, would not be a very large item. It would be the cheapest and best way of keeping them in decency and in some comfort for the balance of the year. I think the minister sympathizes with me in this regard. No matter how far behind they may be in their payments, I suggest that it would be good business to allow them to remain until next spring.
Owing to the present conditions which exist in connection with immigration and colonization, we may expect some reorganization in connection with this department as well as in connection with the land settlement board. I think the minister will agree and the house will appreciate that even with reorganization a certain number of men will be required to carry on the work. At the present time there are some hundreds of men working under the board. They are all returned men and have been in the service of the board for some ten or twelve years. Like all the rest of us they are not getting any younger, and possibly they have become unfitted for other forms of work and would find it extremely difficult to find employment. I would suggest that when the irreducible minimum has been reached the men who are left should be placed in a permanent position, and no matter under what department this matter may be placed, or what methods are adopted, as far as possible the men who are to do the work shall be those at present performing these duties. This would be only a measure of reestablishment for returned men, and would be only fair to those who have worked faithfully for ten or twelve years. I would ask the minister to give the assurance to those men and to the committee that as far as possible the personnel in the west that may be necessary to carry on this work and work of a similar character, under whatever department it may come, shall be the personnel at present engaged
who have fitted themselves for the jobs. That would be an assurance which would be appreciated by the house and the country as a whole.