Alexander Bell PATTERSON

PATTERSON, Alexander Bell

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
SC
  Fraser Valley (British Columbia)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
SC
  Fraser Valley (British Columbia)
June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
SC
  Fraser Valley (British Columbia)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
SC
  Fraser Valley (British Columbia)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
SC
  Fraser Valley (British Columbia)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
PC
  Fraser Valley East (British Columbia)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
PC
  Fraser Valley East (British Columbia)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
PC
  Fraser Valley East (British Columbia)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
PC
  Fraser Valley East (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 232 of 236)


June 19, 1954

Mr. Patterson:

I appreciate the minister's attitude, and I assure him that the remarks I shall make are going to be brief. One of the matters is not referred to at all in the estimates and I believe there is a separate section dealing with the other. However, I want to say how much we do appreciate the legislation brought in dealing with matters of health and welfare in our nation. I was thinking just recently of the legislation in regard to the disability pensions. At the moment right across Canada there is a great deal of joy and satisfaction that that particular matter has been dealt with.

However, as I looked over the estimates I failed to find anything at all with respect to assistance to the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society. Some time ago I had quite a number of communications-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NESBITT-REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF HON. MEMBER FOR WELLINGTON SOUTH
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June 19, 1954

Mr. Patterson:

I do not see it listed at all.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NESBITT-REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF HON. MEMBER FOR WELLINGTON SOUTH
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June 19, 1954

Mr. Patterson:

Is it listed as a separate item?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NESBITT-REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF HON. MEMBER FOR WELLINGTON SOUTH
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June 19, 1954

Mr. Patterson:

Some time ago I had a

considerable number of communications with regard to the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society. Those who were suffering from those diseases and had received the benefits of the treatment from that particular organization urged me to give my support to any matters that came up in this particular respect, and to urge the department, the government and the minister to do all they possibly could to assist this worthy organization in carrying out their splendid work.

I am very happy that this item is included although I fail to see any reason for it under this particular heading. There is one other matter to which I wish to refer and to which reference has been made on a number of occasions. I would again urge upon the government and the minister the importance of giving further consideration to the matter of old age pensions.

In the Montreal Gazette of April 7, 1954, there was an article which presented very vividly the plight of many of those who are on old age pension. The article is headed, "Starved Woman's Case Shows Pensioners' Plight". I would like to read a few brief excerpts:

Out of her $40 old age pension each month, $35 was taken to pay the rent.

Supply-Health and Welfare

The remainder, five dollars, bought a month's ''supply'' of food.

Her plight, by no means an isolated case, has focused attention on the struggle of unattached pensioners to subsist on their monthly allotment.

The article then goes on to quote Mr. G. B. Clarke, general secretary of the family welfare association, as follows:

"There is no doubt about it, $40 per month is a Godsend to old people living with their families, or for those who have some additional income.

"But in this day and age, it is impossible to live on $40 alone. I would say $60 would be the very minimum for a month."

Then further down in the article we have this brief statement:

There are many old people on a bread and tea diet in this city.

And they are the most pathetic cases, living out their old age in want and poverty.

Then I would like to refer to an editorial taken from the January 20 edition of the Vancouver Province:

Now that the federal cabinet ministers and members of parliament have arranged among themselves for a handsome increase in yearly income . . . they might give some thought to the plight of people vastly poorer off than they-people who are really suffering.

I do not quote this editorial in any spirit of criticism because I am sure the house will remember that our group gave its support to the increase made at that time. However, I think I am justified in drawing the plight of these people to the attention of this house. Further on this article states:

But in the cabins and bare apartments and chill furnished rooms where some thousands of old age pensioners drag out a sorry existence, there is not even an appearance of comfort. There is just enough to get by with at the best of times, and in these freezing winter days, any penny that goes for extra heat must be deducted from the allowance for food. How could it be otherwise on a pension of $40 a month? How could it be much different even in those provinces where the pension is augmented a little?

I might point out that in British Columbia there is a $15 supplement to the pension from the province. The article continues:

If the country can afford to double the salary of a member of the Commons or the Senate, it can afford to be just, if not generous, to the people who have worn themselves out making this country and have won little or nothing for themselves in the making.

I thought it advisable to bring that to the attention of the minister to emphasize again our plea on behalf of those who are living on the old age pension. Of course there are many other cases we could draw to the attention of the government, but I feel one is sufficient, and I would just like to place myself on record this afternoon as requesting that further consideration be given to our old age pensioners. I appreciate the courtesy

Supply-Health and Welfare extended to me by hon. members in permitting me to make these remarks at this time rather than later on in the discussion.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NESBITT-REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF HON. MEMBER FOR WELLINGTON SOUTH
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June 17, 1954

Mr. Patterson:

Mr. Chairman, I feel it is always wise for one to give expression to any words of commendation he may feel before proceeding to words of censure or criticism. Therefore this evening, rising to take part in this debate, I should like first of all to let the Minister of Veterans Affairs know that we appreciate deeply the readiness with which he and his department deal with all veterans problems we bring to their attention from time to time. Personally, I have always found them to be more than

Supply-Veterans Affairs ready and willing to investigate any particular case, to report upon it and to let us know the situation as it really exists.

We are also very happy in respect of those measures passed at this session of parliament. I may say that already some of the veterans in my own riding are receiving benefits from some of those measures, or they will be in the near future. Therefore first of all I commend the minister and his department.

Having done that I feel I am now free to go ahead and voice any criticisms I have with just as great emphasis as I have used in my commendation. It is not my purpose tonight to deal at length with veterans legislation in general. The hon. member for Acadia and the hon. member for New Westminster have set forth clearly our attitude with respect to veterans legislation in general. However I do feel that up to the present time the government has failed to deal with those problems that are of special concern to veterans organizations across Canada.

Speaking in the house some time ago I gave expression to that conviction, and since that time the conviction has been strengthened further by a considerable number of communications I have received from individual veterans and from branches of the Legion in various sections. I hope the saying is still true that the constant dropping of water wears away the rock-and, applying it in this instance, that the constant emphasis and re-emphasis of these particular issues will soften the heart of the government. I do not say the heart of the minister because I believe that he personally would be most happy if he could do something further for the war veterans who are not on the allowance at the present time. But I do trust that the continued re-emphasis of these particular matters will somehow encourage the government to take time off to reconsider them and give further attention to the plight of the war veterans.

The first one of course, as I have already said, is the war veterans allowance, which is recommendation No. 1 in the brief presented to the Prime Minister of Canada and the cabinet by the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League on November 10, 1953, which states:

That the basic rate of war veterans allowance be increased to $60 per month for a single veteran, and $120 per month for those who are married.

The government has already given us to understand in no uncertain terms that they are not going * to consider the raising of the war veterans allowance at this session. Some time ago this matter was brought to the

Supply-Veterans Affairs attention of the government and it was sidetracked on several occasions. Just recently I received telegrams from various Legion branches in my own particular riding. I should like to refer to a telegram that I received from W. Cross, zone commander, New Westminster and district zones of the Canadian Legion. It is dated May 21 and reads as follows:

Canadian Legion delegates from South Burnaby, New Westminster, Mission, Haney, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody branches representing 4,200 members met last night in South Burnaby branch 83 and passed unanimous motion deeply deploring Prime Minister's callousness over plight of thousands of veterans. Have wired Prime Minister. We in your constituency demand your support of Canadian Legion brief and urge you do your utmost to have War Veterans Allowance Act given full consideration this session.

I would have been as happy to see the word "request" used in the telegram instead of "demand", but the word "demand" was used. Perhaps some hon. members will recall that I brought this to the attention of the house just before the orders of the day on May 21, and asked whether the Prime Minister had received a telegram in this connection and whether he was prepared to make any statement in regard to its contents. Mr. Speaker gave me to understand that that was not the proper time to bring a question of that kind to the attention of the house, and suggested that it would be more appropriate to ask it in the veterans affairs committee or when the estimates of the Minister of Veterans Affairs were before the house. I understand that this is the proper time to refer to it. However there was no opportunity for a statement to be made at that time. I want to bring to the attention of the committee, of the minister and of the department the fact that we are still definitely interested in and concerned about this particular matter, and request that it be given full consideration, and that something further be done for those who are recipients of the war veterans allowance.

I will not refer to the veterans affairs committee. I was not a member of it, but I read some interesting things that came out of it. I was surprised at the attitude of some of the members of that committee, but I do not want to be ruled out of order at this time. Therefore I shall not make any further comments in that regard.

The second recommendation in the Canadian Legion brief to which I have referred reads:

That the ceilings on total permissible income under War Veterans Allowance Act be increased to $1,200 per year in the case of a single recipient and $2,000 per year in the case of those married.

I want to lend my support to that recommendation as well and to ask the government whether they will not just bend a little. I do not think it is asking very much, but I would request the government to bend a little and yield to the requests of the Legion in this particular respect.

I stated some time ago that I could not understand why the government refuses to raise the ceiling on permissive income. We all recognize that as it stands now it is entirely inadequate to permit of a decent standard of living. In a letter which is quoted in the October issue of the Legionary, and which was sent to the Prime Minister by C. B. Lumsden, dominion president of the Canadian Legion, we find the following in the first part of it:

For some years we have been asking for a revision of the War Veterans Allowance Act which would raise the ceiling on permissible income and permit an increase in the basic allowance for those with no other means of support. To us the moral and sociological reasons in favour of these changes seem overwhelming and our members find it difficult to understand why our representations have not been accepted.

There is little that we can add to the briefs previously presented. We would merely like to reiterate that as the act stands at present it tends to defeat its own objectives. If the allowance is intended to assist the aged and needy veteran, the low permissive ceiling prevents him from supplementing this allowance sufficiently to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. If it is intended as a subsistence allowance, it is far too small.

The taxation laws of Canada consider that an income of less than $2,000 is too low for a married man to pay income tax. Yet war veterans allowance expects a married couple to live on $1,200 a year.

There is more to the letter but I will not take the time of the committee to read it. I should like to suggest once again that the government give consideration and take action as soon as possible to accede to the request of the Legion. These are the two matters to which I should like to refer. I know other speakers have already emphasized them, but I want to give them my support at this time. I urge the government to yield on these two important and very necessary requests.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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