Shortly after the government issued these little blue cards, one of which I have here, the squadron had an open forum of both aircrew and ground crew to discuss these problems. That little meeting on a forward landing ground at dusk was to me the most educative and interesting experience I had1 overseas. Out of it emerged one bald, bare fact. These men do not want charity or pity in the way of being given a hand-out. All they want is the same fighting chance in peace time as they are now taking for their country in war time. I think I can summarize briefly as follows the collective opinion of their meeting that night:
When the war broke out and our country needed us, the government accepted our services. They took us and trained us in the best manner in the very best of training institutes. During that period of training they clothed and fed us and provided full medical and dental treatment. They paid us a basic rate of at least $1.30 per day and full service dependents' allowance to our dependents, amounting in all to $75 per month for a single man, $110 per month for a married man and $134 a month for a married man with two children. When we have served our country and returned to train for peace we want, first of all, jobs. If we cannot fill those jobs, we want the necessary training. We want jobs not of death and destruction but of peace and construction, under similar conditions of pay and allowances.
With this simple demand no one can find fault. I believe the people of Canada themselves are willing to give these boys that much.
Let me trace what happens to a soldier when he is honourably discharged under existing regulations. Here I must compliment my friend the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie) upon his recent action which has cut my feet from under me in my criticism of the old regulations. Under the old regulations a man needing medical treatment was discharged and then given a pension on a much lower scale. Under the exist-
The Address-Mr. Sinclair
mg regulations he is retained in uniform while undergoing treatment. Officers are paid at the rate of flying officers or the equivalent, and airmen at their existing pay. The retention of the uniform is a fine thing, because a disabled man in uniform is an object of respect; in civilian clothes he is quite often the recipient of unwanted1 pity. If he is partly disabled, on completion of the treatment he comes under the Pension Act. I do not propose to speak of that matter at this time, although here again I should like to compliment the minister on the recently announced extension of the burnt-out pension scheme.
We now have a man in good health ready for discharge. First he gets his clothing allowance so that he may return to civilian life. Previously this was the ridiculous sum of S35, but it has lately been increased to $65. This sum may be sufficient for a man who has been less than a year in the service, because it would permit him to supplement his civilian clothing, but it certainly is not sufficient for a man who has been overseas for three or four years. Quite often when he returns he has outgrown his clothing; it may be moth-eaten, or his loving relatives may have given it away to the Salvation Army or the Red Cross. I would say that the clothing allowance should be based on a sliding scale according to length and character of service.
There is another important point about the clothing allowance which I want to bring out. Before a man gets his clothing allowance he must turn in his uniform. He is allowed to keep his shirts, underwear, socks and shoes, but he must turn in his gun, tools, uniform, blankets and things like that. Since I returned home 'I have been stationed at a west coast station. One wet day a man paraded in the squadron dressed only in a sweater and a pair of white cook's trousers and wanted a pass to go to town. He was reproved for parading in such clothing, let alone for asking to go to town, but he explained that he had just turned in his uniform, had got his $65 and now wanted to go to town to get his civilian clothes. When I told that to my colleague, the hon. member for Fraser Valley, that old soldier, with his customary vigour, said that if he had been in that man's place he would have paraded to town in the shirt, underwear, socks and shoes which his grateful country had allowed him to keep.
The very least this country could do for an honourably discharged soldier is to allow him to keep his uniform. The cost of a No. 1 blue is $13.70. When it is turned in it becomes a No. 2 blue worth just $7. A No. 2 blue when turned in is either made into salvage or given t"' the Indian department. It would not cost
the government over $7. Giving the uniform to the air man-I am confining my remarks to the air force-would permit him to return to his home town in uniform. More than that, he would be able to spend his $85 wisely. He could use that money to supplement his civilian clothing when he is at home by purchasing from the home town stores. Let me tell this house that every sailor, soldier or airman is just as proud of his uniform as any officer, and will want to keep it so that in the years to come he can show his children and his grandchildren the uniform in which he served his king.
Next, our man is given a discharge button. This is a most excellent thing, as is the provision of a button to those who have volunteered but have been found unfit, who have tried to join but have been rejected for medical reasons. My one suggestion here is that these buttons are not well enough known in Canada and do not get the honour they deserve. I suggest that the government should omit one of these civilian morale advertisements that clutter up our newspapers'and devote the same space to returned soldier morale by featuring, first of all, the red maple leaf of the man who tried to join, who tried to do his bit, and the discharge button given to the man who has been honourably discharged, who has done his bit. In that way the people of Canada would come to know these badges and honour them.
Now our man is ready for his gratuity. I dislike the term "gratuity" because it implies charity. What he actually gets is a grant in aid to enable him to tide himself over the very difficult period of demobilization. At present this is one month's pay of rank and allowances for those with more than six months' service. With both the method of payment and the payment I disagree. There is a great difference between the need of, say, a Seaforth private in Italy who has been serving for $1.50 a day and wTho is returned to civilian life, and a major-general whose service has been confined to the rigours of Ottawa at $20 a day. Theoretically the higher the rank, the easier it is for a man to return to civilian life. The Seaforth private will go back to civilian life with $45, whereas the major-general will be given $600. This is a case of to them that have had, more shall be given, and to them that have had very1 little, very little shall be given.
I would take the minister's own yardstick in the case of medical treatment. The basic pay of a flying officer, an army lieutenant or a navy sub-lieutenant should be the basis for paying gratuities to all service men on discharge, and for each year of overseas service
The Address-Mr. Sinclair
or eighteen months of voluntary service in Canada the man should be given one month's pay at this rate.
Our man is now fit, discharged with his clothing allowance, button, and grant in aid. Now comes rehabilitation. Men in this war differ from men in the last in another way. There has been a high degree of mechanization in this war, and there is a great proportion of skilled tradesmen in the service. Three-quarters of the ground men in the air force are highly skilled technicians, fitters, riggers, wireless operators, welders, and so on. The same is true to a lesser extent of the men in the army and navy. These men are going to have very little trouble in getting jobs when they return, if the jobs are there. That, of course, is the problem of reconstruction.
There is a second group who will have little trouble, those who will return to their civilian occupations because of the government's very good soldier reinstatement act.
There remains another group, estimated by the Canadian Legion to be between 150,000 and 200,000, who will have no civilian trade or who will want to complete their training which was interrupted by the war. In this group will be the very greatest number of the men who deserve best by this country, the actual combatants, the soldier in the line, the aircrew in the air, the sailors on our fighting ships whose only trade right now is to kill or be killed. I have had the opportunity of carefully studying the educational programme drawn up by Doctor Weir and his staff under the Minister of Pensions and National Health, and I find it a wonderful scheme. No returned soldier can say that a suitable training syllabus to train him on his return to civilian life was not prepared. My objection is a simple one. The soldier, sailor or airman will not be able to take this programme because of financial inadequacy. Let me read from this little soldier blue book on the subject of grants-in-aid:
Grants may be provided to service men while taking refresher courses, vocational training, university education, awaiting return from crops or private enterprise, temporarily incapacitated or out of work, if fit and capable of working.
All very admirable and completely comprehensive. These grants cover (a) tuition fees, student fees, athletic fees or other charges and costs of courses given; (c) allowances for dependents. These are on the service scale as regards children, and I find no complaint with either of these clauses (a) and (c). It is clause (b) that I find fault with. Clause (b) provides for living allowances of $44.20 a month for a single man and $62.40 a month for a married man. This living allowance can be regarded as a basic $44.20, plus $18.20 for wife. Against this I protest.
To begin with, as a mathematician I am fascinated by the $44.20. I would certainly like to know the mathematical basis on which the need and reward of a service man can be figured right down to twenty cents. I am told it is based on unemployment insurance benefits. I scorn that comparison. There is no conceivable relation between reestablishing a veteran who has served his king and country and unemployment insurance benefits.
Some will say it is a wonderful benefit. How they wished they had had it when they attended college! I am sure that the minister, when he recalls his own grim struggle on meagre bursaries through Scottish universities, might regard it as munificent. I worked my way through university by working in the mines, and would have been highly pleased with such assistance. But here again the comparison fails. These are not boys struggling ahead for themselves, but men who have earned men's wages, who have hazarded their lives and sacrificed the best and most formative years of their lives for their country, on meagre pay, and who deserve well by their country'. Now when they return they are to be trained for peace. Even from the point of view of the narrowest and most selfish of national interests it is our duty to see them properly reestablished; for they represent our greatest single national asset, the fittest, the bravest, the most self-sacrificing of our youth, those who will create the Canada to come.
I am going to give you actual examples of what is happening to-day. At the beginning of the war, when air force standards were high, junior matriculation or better was required. As the drain on man-power began, standards relaxed, but still a certain minimum equivalent to second year high school mathematics was necessary. To enable candidates lacking this to qualify for the air force, the dominion-provincial youth training plan began giving this training to otherwise qualified candidates. They got only $1.25 a day subsistence. As the need grew greater, the air force took over those lads who where deficient in elementary education and sent them to public schools. In Vancouver, for example, to-day there are about 400 attending two public schools and a technical school. Now these lads get $1.25 a day for board as they lodge near the schools, and $1.30 a day basic airman's pay, a total of $76.50 a month in cash, plus airmen's clothing, full medical and dental care, all costs of tuition, and all the opportunities for free or cheap entertainment and recreation available for men in uniform. Their one complaint is that $37.50 a month is not adequate for board and lodging in Vancouver.
Also in Vancouver we have returned men starting rehabilitation training. Take the case
The Address-Mr. Sinclair
of a pilot with three years' overseas service who is resuming his interrupted course in engineering at the university of British Columbia. He gets his tuition fees, as the trainee does, and $44.20 in cash-nothing else. No clothing, no medical care except for war injuries, no dental treatment, no opportunities for free or cheap entertainment or recreation. Deduct the $37.50 which the government deems adequate for board for the trainee and we get this comparison:
To the man who is getting elementary education to enable him to begin real air force training to serve his country, $39 a month in cash, tuition fees, board and lodging, clothing, full medical and dental treatment, free or cheap recreation and entertainment. To the man who has served his country on the field of battle and is now training for peace, $6.70 in cash, tuition fees, board and lodging, no clothing, medical treatment only for war injuries, no dental treatment, no chance for free or cheap entertainment or recreation.
I mentioned before that in this group are going to be a large proportion of the most deserving, the actual combatants, the soldiers in the line, the aircrew and the fighting sailors.
In a sympathetic and understanding speech some sessions ago, the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power) pointed out that this group would present the greatest problems on return; for not only had jobs to be found, but the men would have to be conditioned to accept the quiet routine of civilian life after years of great hardships, intense excitement and the most incredible nervous strain in the line of battle. What hope is there for conditioning these men to a normal civilian life on a net cash grant of $6.70 a month, out of which they must pay for replacement of clothing, laundry, car fare, medical and dental treatment, recreation, and then find money for leading a normal civilian life? I tell this house that if these men return to such conditions their song will not be "Land of Hope and Glory"; it may well be the red flag. They will remember Kipling's bitter little song, "Tommy Atkins":
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes", when the drums begin to roll.
That is what it was when they were called up. But when they find themselves getting $6.70 a month it will be "We serve no redcoats here". These men will know the score, just like Kipling's Tommy did.
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool-you bet that Tommy sees!
No Canadian at home should accept the excuse that what we are doing is more than
any other country is doing. There is only one standard: to our ownselves be true. Give these men the one thing they are asking for, the same fighting chance in training for peace that we gave them when we were training them for war. I therefore propose that a basic sum of $75 a month be paid, plus standard service allowance to wife and children, plus medical and dental care at the nearest military establishment, for the duration of the period of rehabilitation. This is still less than the trainee taking elementary training gets, but it will give the returned soldier a fighting chance. That is all he wants.
While on the subject thete are one or two other things in this booklet that I would like to mention. First, soldier land settlement. I do not know very many airmen who are proposing to go on the land after this war. That may be because farm life is unsuitable after service in the air force. It may be because they remember too well soldier settlement after the last war. It may be because they remember too well the plight of experienced farmers before the present war.
Those who are going on the land expect three conditions to be fulfilled. First, that the land be suitable. They are not going to try to raise crops on barren acres. Second, that it be cleared. No British Columbia boy is going to spend the rest of his life trying to tear up British Columbia stumps by hand. Third, that the land be accessible to market.
I have two observations on finance. Every soldier, sailor or airman who reads page 13, and continues to read until he finds that the ex-service man must make a down payment to the government of ten per cent of the cost of the land, or $480, and that this down payment must be made prior to the receipt of any financial assistance, is going to say, "Where the blank am I going to get a down payment of $480?" Out of their savings or their war pay of one dollar and one-half a day? No. Out of this gratuity of $45 in all that the government is proposing to pay? No. From our chartered banks or money lenders? No. Where? I ask the government. It may well bother them. It is bothering, I know, many soldiers, sailors and airmen.
I had thought that in view of the experience in soldier settlement after the last war, the government's approach would be a little different. I do not like making statements without figures, but I am quite sure that if all the cost of land settlement boards and administration and legal costs and surveys and royal commissions were added up, the total would vastly overshadow the actual returns. I therefore propose that any soldier who is still
The Address-Mr. Esling
fanning his land after five years be given his farm outright. This would save the government money; it would give the soldier a real incentive to farm, and it would mean the end of at least one war board after the war, because five years after the end of the war the work of the land board would automati-. eally end, not drearily drag on for twenty-five years as has the present land board.
There is one conspicuous omission from this little booklet. The soldier will read it through and say, "Where am I going to live after the war?'' We all know what an appalling shortage of houses there is all over Canada. A national housing scheme must come, but ahead of this must be a provision of some decent place for the returned soldier to live in. I am proud of the industrial war workers' housing project in my riding. Similar provision can be made for the soldiers-not mansions fit for heroes to live in, but decent homes fit for good Canadians.
One thing more, in conclusion. In my maiden speech I am supposed to have suggested that there was too much complacency in Ottawa. I heard a lot about that. As a returned soldier I would like to say again that there is far too much complacency and selfsatisfaction. Not in Ottawa, however, but in the country at large. I believe that the government are far ahead of the people in realizing that 1944 is no year for complacency or selfsatisfaction. Our early days in this war were nothing but one -long tale of defeats and reverses. Now that the tide has just begun to turn, and we are having occasional victories, too many people in this country are relaxing and thinking that the war is practically won. The days of great advances over the deserts of Libya or the plains of Russia are past. The fighting becomes more dogged, more bitter, day by day. The bloodiest battle that British troops have ever attempted is just over the horizon.
When we come back we hear a lot about sacrifices in Canada, restrictions, regulations, loss of earning power, and things like that. These are not sacrifices; they are minor hardships incidental to war. It is those who have given their lives, those who offered strong young bodies to their country and who have returned with those bodies shattered, those who have lost sons, husbands, fathers-these are the ones who can talk of sacrifice. Our women folk too: the mothers who are sick with apprehension when they read of our nightly loss of bombers for fear their boys have gone flaming down in the night; the wives who pale at the approach of a telegraph boy for fear he brings the dreaded message; the quiet anguish of all women who can but
watch and pray at home while separated from their men overseas-these know the terror and horror of war.
A little earlier I spoke rather strongly of this wage control order. When I read, however, in yesterday's press that certain labour leaders in Canada are proposing an illegal one-day strike as a protest, I am filled with nausea and disgust. Such an action will not help labour with the people of Canada, and I should be ashamed of this government if it paid any heed to such a protest. Such a strike will hurt just one group-the fighting men overseas. A one-day strike will mean that when that bloody morning dawns and our Canadians wade ashore on the beaches of France under a hell of fire and bombing, they will have been weakened by the lack of one day's output of war material, in the most terrible battle in which Canadian troops ever engaged. Let me tell you that those who survive will remember it.
This is no time for self-satisfaction and selfcomplacency in Canada about our war record, our industrial record, our home front record. This is the year of decision, the year which will decide a rapid victory or a long and protracted war ending probably in a stalemate; a year of blood, sweat and tears for every one of the United nations; a year when our fighting men must be given every conceivable aid and support and encouragement by every man, woman and child in Canada, no matter what the personal cost may be.
Mr. W. Iv. ESLING (Kootenay West).: May I join with all members of this house in a generous welcome to the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. Sinclair), who has just returned to his parliamentary duties. He has given the people of this country a clear and accurate presentation of the indebtedness of the government and the people to the fighting forces overseas, and it is to be hoped that full note will be taken of his submission.
As the speech from the throne presents an extensive programme of new and revised legislation, my reference to it at this, early stage of the session is with the hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) will include in that programme better provision and better opportunities for handicapped people in the dominion, no matter what that handicap may be. The speech contains one point about employment and another on pensions, each of which is closely associated with a third, social security, and on that social security is to be based the new postwar order which is the topic of discussion in every community across Canada. If the government is really in earnest in bringing
The Address-Mr. Esling
this new order into effect, there is no better time than the present to establish a foundation for it.
At the meeting of the social security committee, perhaps the most interesting and informative submission was that presented by Colonel E. A. Baker, of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. If I could persuade the members of this house to visit the workshops of the blind in the larger cities across Canada they would get a first-hand view of the effort and the energy of blind persons to become self-supporting. They are doing splendid work and their one endeavour is to be free and divorced from all government support.
Colonel Baker's submission was unique in the fact that, instead of asking the government for something, it proposed to relieve the government and the taxpayers from a contribution by way of old age pensions. As hon. members know, a blind person is pensioned at forty. He is permitted to earn, in addition to the pension, the sum of $200 if he is single. That makes $440. A married man is permitted to have 8S05 including pension. Because he is blind it must not be thought that he is not just as keen to have the comforts and joys of family life and to bring up his children as the children of sighted persons are brought up. And so I ask hon. members this question: Would any man in this House of Commons like to be in- the position of having to rear a family on $805 a year, which is the limit set for married men?
It is to that end that Colonel Baker suggests the new method whereby, instead of deducting dollar for dollar in excess of the amount a blind person is permitted to earn, the government will deduct only fifty cents from the pension, so that the blind person may continue to earn until he has reached $680, at which time the pension is wiped out entirely and he no longer receives benefits from the government. That looks like a reasonable proposal. Further, the proposal is that a blind boy who is taking his limited vocational training be pensioned at the age of twenty-one. He too will be better fitted to earn his living. As his earnings increased there would return to the government that proportion of his pension, so that the government would be free. It would be an incentive to all blind persons to earn as much as possible and be released from the receipt of a pension from the authorities. Regardless of what a man's earnings might be in one year, he would still be eligible for pension-the next, but he would be most earnest in his endeavour to free himself from the necessity of receiving a pension.
The submission further suggests that, legislation for the welfare of the blind, including pension, be placed under a separate act.
I should like to refer to a matter that came up at the last session. It has to do with those people who are hard of hearing. That is in the nature of a handicap and it is something to which people give little thought. Many times a child in school is backward, perhaps depressed, and is often spoken of as indifferent or as being, in more direct terms, "dumb", Quite often that is due entirely to the fact that the child's hearing is impaired. That is borne out by a national health survey made in 1935 and 1936, which showed that there were in Canada 155,000 adults who were hard of hearing. The survey showed also that two per cent of the children of school age had defective hearing. As a result there has been incorporated in Canada the national society for the hard of hearing and for the deaf. It has a splendid membership across the dominion. The purpose of the society is to assist people who are hard of hearing or deaf, by way of welfare work and particularly by placing them in positions so that they may be able to maintain themselves.
At the last session, in referring to certain people, I used a word which I know some distributors and manufacturers take exception to-the word "racket." The fact is however that there are people who are making immense sums of money out of the afflicted. The hearing device is beyond the reach of so many people who are hard of hearing. In the first place, these people are not able to earn a normal standard of living and they are deprived of the benefits of this device because it sells from S150 to $200, though the instrument is a very simple one and the material in it represents just about one-eighth of the cost of this hearing aid. .
I asked the Minister of Finance during my remarks last year if he would not appeal to the wartime prices and trade board and ask what was a reasonable price at which this instrument should be sold, and the minister kindly did so. I think he was disappointed in the reply, as I was, because the board seemed to assume that it had no concern about hearing devices except as the price applied to the base period of September to October, 1941. The minister must have thought that he was right or he would not have asked his question of the board, but the board replied that they had called in half a dozen distributors from the Montreal district and had been informed that the prices at which these distributors were selling the instrument were the prices that prevailed in the basic period of 1941. Suppose that by some combination of circumstances or war conditions just before that basic period the distributors had jumped the price $100, the reply of the wartime prices and trade board
The Address-Mr. Esling
would have justified the asking today of $300 or $250 instead of current prices. What I particularly asked last year was that the wartime prices and trade board refer this matter to the national research council and to have . the national research council determine a fair and reasonable price at which the people of Canada could be supplied with this device. Apparently nobody seemed to be responsible. As I say, the wartime prices and trade board was not concerned. The Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie) said that his department was having an expert body look into the matter, but in so far as it went beyond the department he did not think he had any authority to deal with it. Well, it does seem to me that the minister, as minister of health, should take particular steps to see that the Department of Pensions and National Health does take up this matter and does see that the national research council determine a reasonable price.
There are other complications that arise, because the picture has changed entirely since the last session, and the change indicates exactly what the national research council could have done. One of the largest radio manufacturers in the United States has placed a cheaper instrument upon the market. It sells at $40 in the United States as against $150 and $200 in this country. The Department of Pensions has accepted that instrument. It is being dealt with through the orthopaedic branch. It has secured the approval of the American medical society; it has secured the approval of our own national research council. What should be kept in mind is this: that United States concern has practically broken the combination which sells the hearing device on the Canadian market at a price of $150 to ' $200; and it is for that reason we may expect chaos in the distribution or in the marketing of cheaper grades of instruments to the deaf and hard of hearing people. There are other difficulties. There are high pressure salesmen who are able to convince a buyer that he should have this instrument or that. After he has paid his money, however, he finds that it does not answer the purpose. My suggestion to the government is that they have the national research council go into this matter and establish a specific code for the standardization of material and construction; for achievement and performance; for the permit and for the nature of advertising, and arrive at a graded cost of such instruments in accordance with the cost of the material, the cost of construction, distribution and research that should apply. I know that the government does not want to go into this business,
but it should go into the business of protecting the general public against these high pressure salesmen; it should go into the business of seeing that no instruments are sold in Canada unless they pass the approval of the national research council.
I make an appeal to the Minister of Finance. I ask him to have a thought for these people who with great difficulty have saved sufficient money to purchase one of these instruments. It is true that there is no customs duty on them, but there is a war exchange tax of ten per cent and a sales tax of eight per cent. There is also an upkeep cost of about $25 a year. I ask the minister if he will not, in thinking this matter over, endeavour to have these three items deducted from a person's income tax, just as is a reasonable portion of one's doctors' and hospital bills.
The other day the Prime Minister spoke about the various committees and the work which was ahead of them. Every member of this house knows that the members of these committees were worked to the limit at the last session. They were worked to the extent that they had to sit between sessions. May I offer the suggestion that some of this work be turned over to the members of the red chamber. Senators are capable men. They are able to deal with this committee work perhaps as well as the members of the House of Commons. Any committee appointed in the red chamber has a majority of government members; therefore there is no danger of a report being presented contrary to the wishes of the government. If you go through the "Parliamentary Guide" you will find that of the eighty-one members of the red chamber one-third of them have been either members of a government occupying ministerial positions or leaders of parties in their respective provinces. Surely we all know that when they were called to the red chamber, due thought was given to their responsibility and to their qualifications for carrying out the duties of their office, and it is merely with a view to hurrying the session and placing a lot of the work where it could be well done that I offer this suggestion. There is another reason, and it is this: for practically one-quarter of the time of the last session the Senate was without anything to do.
Topic: MEAT SUPPLY
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH