Alfred Johnson BROOKS

BROOKS, The Hon. Alfred Johnson, P.C., Q.C., B.A., B.C.L., Hon. LL.D.

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Royal (New Brunswick)
Birth Date
November 14, 1890
Deceased Date
December 7, 1967
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Johnson_Brooks
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=8c51ae75-79fc-49b3-8235-510e727a7dad&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
barrister, teacher

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
CON
  Royal (New Brunswick)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
NAT
  Royal (New Brunswick)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
PC
  Royal (New Brunswick)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
PC
  Royal (New Brunswick)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
PC
  Royal (New Brunswick)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
PC
  Royal (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of National Health and Welfare (June 21, 1957 - August 21, 1957)
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs (June 21, 1957 - October 10, 1960)
March 31, 1958 - April 19, 1962
PC
  Royal (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs (June 21, 1957 - October 10, 1960)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 801)


July 22, 1960

Mr. Brooks:

Yes.

Topic:   I960
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July 22, 1960

Mr. Brooks:

May I point out to the hon. member that I inherited the acceptance; it was not my acceptance at all; it was accepted long before I became minister.

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July 22, 1960

Mr. Brooks:

This is the height of the dinner hour. The administrative cost of running our hospitals will increase somewhat this year over the actual expenditure we made in the year 1959-60, increasing from about $55,900,000 to some $57,367,000. Of that total cost, however, we expect to recover some $12,730,000. These recoveries are increasing, due largely to payments from the provinces for treatment given to patients having entitlement under provincial hospital insurance plans.

I should mention that our hospital construction program is proceeding satisfactorily. The replacement of obsolete accommodation at Shaughnessy hospital, Vancouver, is now nearing completion and the patients have been moved into this new accommodation. A similar replacement project has been started at Westminster hospital, London. Architects' plans are being prepared for the construction of a veterans pavillion in connection with the general hospital in St. John's, Newfoundland, and preliminary planning is now being done in the department for extensive alterations to Queen Mary veterans hospital, Montreal, and Ste. Anne's hospital at Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

As an instance of the lively interest taken by the members of the standing committee on veterans affairs in our hospital facilities I should mention that last year the committee visited Sunnybrook hospital, Toronto, and this year they expressed a wish to inspect 79951-0-426J

Supply-Veterans Affairs older accommodation in order that they might appreciate the problems faced by the department in providing treatment in obsolescent accommodation. Accordingly, on Wednesday May 25 the committee visited Queen Mary veterans hospital at Montreal and our institution at Ste. Anne de Bellevue. I understand they considered their visit most informative, as they got valuable firsthand information on the difficulties of providing first class modern treatment under somewhat difficult conditions.

The amount we expect to spend this year on hospital construction and improvements and equipment has been estimated at $4,937,000. The medical research and education features of our treatment services are expected to continue at the same level as last year, as are the prosthetic services offered by the department.

I should now like to say a few words with respect to the Veterans Land Act. As hon. members know, this act was amended last year. We now have some indication of the effects of the improvements in this legislation which the amendments brought about. These amendments increased the maximum amounts available to full time farmers to $20,000 and to small holders to $10,000, and in part II of the act housing assistance was raised to $10,000.

The greatest impact on the administration has been created by the amendments respecting full-time farmers. These will considerably increase the work load during the current year. It has been found necessary to make the staff fully familiar with the farm appraisal and loan principles which must be followed in order that the increased amounts may be invested wisely for the basic purposes for which they were intended, the acquisition or development of economic family farm units. The estimated cost of administration this year is nevertheless almost exactly the same as the total allotment for last year.

We found that after a slow start there was an increase of more than 25 per cent in the number of farm loans approved in the last nine months of 1959-60 over the previous year, and that financial assistance to small holders and commercial fishermen showed an increase in number of about 20 per cent over that experienced before the amendments. House construction continues at a fairly high level, with 1,436 new houses commenced, a slight reduction compared to the previous year, due in the main to veterans deferring their plans until after the amendments became effective. Our total investment last year for the purchase of land, buildings, livestock and farm machinery was about $2.5 million greater than in 1958-59. Our estimate for this item

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Supply-Veterans Affairs for the current year, some $28,625,000, is the same as for last year, part of which, however, remained unexpended at the end of the year. We anticipate that this year the total expenditure will increase.

A number of developments in the organization of the veterans land administration have occurred as a result of the establishment of the farm credit corporation, which is authorized to make arrangements with the director of the veterans land administration for the utilization of his staff in the administration of the Farm Credit Act. We are glad to be able to assist the corporation with our trained and experienced staff in handling its increased work load. As the Farm Credit Act and the Veterans Land Act have basically similar purposes and provisions, it has been found desirable that loaning principles and policies of both organizations should be closely related and consistent. Arrangements have accordingly been made for the joint use of the credit advisers on the strength of the veterans land administration and the corporation. The arrangement is working out very satisfactorily. Close and friendly liaison and co-operation of these staffs will continue to provide good service to the farmers of this country.

Hon. members will notice from the estimates that the total amount of money required for pensions under the Pension Act will be slightly less for the current year than the total expended last year. We expect that total pensions will amount to some $148,940,000, whereas we spent last year about $149,650,000. This small reduction does not indicate, of course, any change in the policy of the commission, who continue to maintain their high tradition for thoroughness and consistency in their interpretation of the Pension Act. The number of pensions in payment on March 31 of this year was 188,626, which showed a small reduction of 1,686 from the number in payment a year earlier.

This reduction is largely due to a decline in the number of pensions payable for service in world war I, whose veterans now find the years taking their toll of both pensioners and their widows. The world war II liability continues to increase but as yet at a slower rate than the world war I liability is declining. The estimate for the administration expenses of the commission, $2,496,000, represents a slight decrease compared to the administration expenses met with during the year just ended, although the volume of work even with the decline in the total number of pensions has not shown a corresponding reduction.

I now come to the operations of the war veterans allowance board. It is interesting to note that the total amount of allowances

expected to be paid during this year, $62,079,000, is over $4 million greater than was spent in the year 1959-60. The total number of recipients of allowances has continued to increase rather rapidly. For example, the number in payment on December 31, 1959 was 67,534 as compared with 64,125 one year earlier. Of the 1959 total, 47,393 were in payment to veterans, and the remainder to widows, orphans and dependants.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would point out that with respect to all these estimates combined, the administrative expenses of the department, of the Canadian pension commission and of the war veterans allowance board are tending to decrease, as the estimated total for 1960-61 of about $63,950,000 is less by $1,830,000 than the provision for 1959-60. The group of expenditures which can be classified as payments under legislation or regulation, and which total nearly $222 million, are expected in the present year to show an increase of some $4,200,000 over those we now estimate as having been made during the year just ended.

We should shortly be going over these estimates item by item, Mr. Chairman, and I shall be very pleased at any time to give more detailed information to the committee.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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July 22, 1960

Mr. Brooks:

We are investigating the possibility. This question is under consideration.

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July 22, 1960

Mr. Brooks:

I just want to answer as briefly as I can some of the questions that were asked by hon. members. Personally I thank all hon. members for their kind remarks about the Department of Veterans Affairs and the staff. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that I join wholeheartedly in what has been said about the staff. As minister, I am extremely proud of my staff in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The hon. member for Burin-Burgeo spoke about the reduction in the estimates. May I point out that the reduction is in the administration of the department this year, and that there is no reduction with regard to pensions, war veterans allowances, treatment or other branches of the department.

The hon. member also raised the question of the Newfoundland forestry unit which went overseas in the last war. This is a matter which will have to receive very careful consideration when a review is made of the Pension Act or the war veterans allowances. These were not enlisted men. They went over as civilians and signed an agreement as civilians to perform certain duties in England, and were not recognized by the imperial defence department as veterans.

That is the problem which we will have to solve one way or the other. It is now 20 years since the beginning of the second world war, when these men went overseas, and it seems to me that if something needed to be done it should have been done long ago. Of course that is no reason for saying that because they were neglected in the past they should be neglected now. I have had a lot of experience in past years with organizations such as this.

Mention was made of the merchant marine. I can remember committee after committee for the last 15 or 20 years dealing with the merchant marine, and I have felt that if there were any group of men who really deserved consideration such as that recommended this afternoon it was the merchant marine, because those men really did suffer hardships

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Supply-Veterans Affairs in their work. For instance, on convoys of ships on the North sea run up through the Arctic circle their ships were torpedoed and they suffered all sorts of hardships. Then there were the fire fighters in London during the blitz. Actually it was after the real blitz when they arrived, but they were under constant danger. I do not want to make comparisons, but we can hardly compare the men who went over with the forestry unit with these men. As I said a moment ago, committees of this house considered the merchant marine and the fire fighters on many occasions, but they could not see their way clear to regard them as belonging to the armed forces. However, that is just the history I am giving the hon. member, which I am sure he knows very well.

The hon. member for Kootenay West will recognize some of the information I have been giving, because he has sat on veterans affairs committees for many years and is very familiar with the work of past committees. I want to thank him for the very kind words he uttered about the department and also about the standing committee on veterans affairs. I heartily agree with him that this committee has justified its existence. Hon. members will recall that when I was in opposition I was very anxious to have a standing committee on veterans affairs, and I am very pleased indeed with the work the committee has been doing not only in reviewing legislation but also the very careful and exhaustive survey it makes of the estimates of this department.

The hon. member for Waterloo North in an excellent address this afternoon had practical statements to make about hospitalization. The hon. member is himself a disabled pensioner, and when he speaks about our hospitals he is speaking from a personal point of view because he has spent considerable time in our hospitals. He mentioned pensioners with 50 per cent disability or less, and recommended that the widow of a pensioner who had 50 per cent pension or less should receive a pension the same as the widow of a pensioner who had over 50 per cent. This is another matter which will have to be considered by the committee and the department when the Pension Act comes under review.

The hon. member for Lincoln had his problem of the imperial veterans. May I say that I think the imperial veterans in Canada are very appreciative, as they should be, of what the Department of Veterans Affairs and the government of Canada have done for them. The particular case he brought before us today had to do with imperial veterans who served in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has not been recognized as a theatre of war, and as ;J1

a result these men have not qualified for war veterans allowances. The hon. member felt that some change should be made in the regulations.

I would like to point out in connection with the veterans of allied forces, whether they be imperial, whether they come from France, Italy, the United States, or any other country, that our department has to take the definition of "service in a theatre of war" as it is given to us by the particular country concerned. As far as ex-imperials are concerned, the definition of service in a theatre of war is as follows: ex-imperials who served in world war I are eligible where the applicant engaged in any of the operations outlined in army order 391-1922, and as a result was issued with a victory medal. Unfortunately these men were not issued with a victory medal, so they are not considered as eligible for war veterans allowance in this country. We might make representations to the British government asking that their definition be changed. I would be very pleased to do that, and if they do change the definition then it will be possible for us to act.

The hon. member for Humber-St. George's recommended that we carry out the recommendations contained in the Legion brief with regard to war veterans allowances, and that consideration should be given to those who did not have 365 days, for instance, in Great Britain. I am not going to debate that matter extensively this afternoon; it has been debated extensively in this house and in committees in the past.

The whole basis of war veterans allowances has been changed. When war veterans allowances were first granted they were granted as compensation to men who had spent many months in the trenches in France. That was the original idea. A man who went through the suffering and hardships experienced by men in the trenches must have aged ten years, and it was thought by parliament and veterans organizations of those days that they should be considered for war veterans allowance as a form of social security when they were 60 years of age.

As I say, there have been many changes. The last change was made a few years ago, in 1957, when the government, I might say on the recommendation of the Canadian Legion, considered that the men who had spent time in England should receive war veterans allowances. It was not considered then that men who came to England in the last few months of the war had suffered to any great extent, to any extent in fact, and for that reason it was not considered that they should be eligible for the war veterans allowance. There have been many changes.

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