The figures which he gave on various occasions in his statement were of the three services combined, and I am glad if, as the minister says, he is ready to receive discussion of the three services separately; for in the past, both before the war and during the war, that was the custom of this committee and I think that it tended to better discussion than if it browsed around amongst the three services.
His remarks, of course, of necessity were brief. In consequence he could not deal as fully as I am sure he would have wished with the services rendered to this country and to the allied cause by the Royal Canadian Navy. He referred to a good part of its duties having been the retention of the bridge between Canada and Europe, but he did not refer to any of the fighting services which they rendered in the far north, in the channel, and in the Mediterranean. One of the things which I should like the minister to deal with later on is the extent to which our ships have been winterized. It is only after hearing accounts of those who served, either in convoy work or in actual fighting in the far north, that we realize the hardships which the sailor has to put up with in that climate. Now that more consideration than ever is given to defence problems in the far north it is necessary, if we expect our ships to serve within the Arctic circle, that we do everything we possibly can to render the ships adequate living quarters.
The minister did not, I think, go into details with regard to the present strength of the navy. I want to draw his attention to the figures of a year ago and to the figures which he gave in answer to certain questions which I put on the order paper in June. It is the duty of the government to devise the strength of the three fighting services. I am not disposed to criticize the government in this regard, for they are in possession of information which is not available to us. They have had the benefit of the discussions of the permanent joint board of defence. Canada and the United States sit together to discuss the problems. I do not know at what levels discussions take place between Canada 83166-337
and the United Kingdom. Perhaps the minister will give us a little information with regard to that; but a year ago the minister's predecessor gave the actual strength of the navy on July 31 as 8,216. He said the permanent force was then 6,005, and he tacked on to that the interim force of 1,137; and hostilities only, approximately 1,000. We have to endeavour to compare with that the figures given in June in reply to my questions. He gave the figure 7,386-I do not know whether to relate that to the 8,216 actual strength last year or to the 6,005 given as the permanent force. I do not know whether the interim force is still a considered unit which was supposed to carry until September 30 of this year. The minister made no reference to that portion of the Canadian navy figures in June; consequently I want some explanation of that.
Of the 7,386 which the minister gave, 3,590 served afloat, which leaves 3,796 on shore establishments. This more than bears out my contention last year that for every seaman afloat there was necessarily a seaman ashore, and it enters into the consideration of the strength in ships. Last year the minister's predecessor gave these figures as two fleet aircraft, two cruisers, twelve destroyers, eighteen frigates and twelve escort mine sweepers, referring to the fact that only certain of these were in commission; and he finished that statement with the following: "there would be a certain proportion of the fleet always in reserve". I presume that that covers the ships which we now own but which are tied up. The minister explained that we have one aircraft carrier which Canada does not own but whose services we benefit from; one cruiser, five destroyers, one frigate, and four minesweepers. But that does not quite tally with the statement attributed to the minister when he met the press on board H.M.C.S. Nootka, in which he said he hoped very shortly that there would be an air fleet carrier and four destroyers on one coast and a cruiser and three destroyers on the other. Perhaps the minister would enlarge on that matter of strength. Then he dealt at short length with the civilians now in the employe of the three services, but he did not separate those into their various establishments. I wonder whether he would be good enough to give us the total of the civilians employed for naval purposes, and if possible divide them up into their locations and the work which they are carrying out in the various parts of Canada.
He indicated that up until, I believe, March 31 the numbers were drooping, but I should like to know, whether, in view of the
enormous amount of work he described as being still necessary outside of the fighting people, that figure has risen again or has continued to droop.
Then with regard to the reserve, Canada's plan for her navy has for many years been the retention of a highly trained, efficient, small force which could be readily expanded when the need arose, and the success of that plan was undoubtedly proved during this recent war as it was in the previous one. Now we are sliding back again into the condition of a highly trained but small navy which can again be expanded if unfortunately it should need expansion, and supporting that highly trained force there would be a reserve. The last information I have seen from the minister with regard to that reserve force is that there would be eighteen, possibly twenty divisions, across Canada, and the figures which I have for June 9, 1947, spoke of a force of 2,693, which is a notable increase from a year ago. But it does not come very close to the figure which I think the minister gave as the number which he expected to be able to raise. *
That leads me to the point of recruiting. Recruiting in that term is not used with regard to the reserve. What efforts is the minister making to induce the gradual expansion of that reserve in the various divisions across Canada, and where do we stand today with regard to actual recruiting for the navy? A little while ago in the press I read that certain classes of trained personnel were required, but there was no reference at that time to anything in the nature of general recruiting, and I should like the minister to ?ive us an explanation in that regard.
There are two other matters I want to touch on shortly One is that which the minister, both today and two or three weeks ago, referred to,-the question of housing for personnel. It is my information, whether it be correct or not, that the navy has not come off as well as the other two services in the question of providing roofs for married personnel. I do not need to emphasize to the minister the fact that you cannot have a happy service if you are not able to provide reasonably adequate quarters for that portion of the personnel who are married.
The other point that I want to take up is the question whether it would not be possible to give recognition in the way of assistance in transportation at time of leave. I did take ' this matter up with the minister some weeks ago and he told me that a great deal of consideration had been given to that point when the new rates of pay and allowances were arrived at. He pointed out that it was the
opinion of the department that further assistance for transportation on leave for the permanent service was scarcely advisable because the new rates of pay had taken care of it.
The illustration which he gave did not impress me very strongly. He said that the new rates of pay and allowances were such that they brought the men into fair relationship with their 'brothers in industry. I do not follow that illustration, for this reason. When a man goes into industry he picks and chooses where he will go and decides whether it would be desirable for him to stay there or to move on somewhere else. That is not the case of a man in the service. He is directed to go to a certain place. He is directed to remain there until he is directed to go somewhere else. It would be but reasonable, in a country of the extent of Canada, that our sailors, drawn from every province, and a great many of them from the central provinces, should have some assistance that they may travel to their homes at the times of their leave-assistance in the payment of a certain portion of the cost of that transportation. In many cases when the distance is great they could not afford to do it out of their pay.
We have had a not very good advertisement in the form of "H.M.C.S. Poverty", where eighteen naval ratings purchased a truck because they could not afford to travel otherwise from coast to coast. They pooled their initiative and energy in what the public called "H.M.C.S. Poverty" and drove to the Pacific coast, dropping off en route their members who belonged to other places, and very ably arranging the return journey so that they could pick them up. It does not seem to me that is a very good advertisement of the way we are treating our permanent force employees, and I should like the minister to give further consideration to something in the nature of what, in my railway days in the old country, used to be called privilege tickets.
I understand that the United Kingdom does give assistance to its personnel at the time of their leave. Because they do it is no warrant in itself that we should do it, but when one remembers that the United Kingdom is a tiny country, involving journeys of a few miles comparatively, it makes one recognize the necessity of assisting service people in this country where journeys run into thousands of miles. Surely there is necessity for helping them here.
I should like to understand from the minister before I sit down how he proposes to proceed with this discussion. Item 551 has been called, which covers all three services. I do not know whether he will consider it wise to let the
discussion range over the three services at this time or whether we can discuss naval matters first and then proceed to the other services.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE