May 12, 1933

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, in

order to get a 'correct view of what business remains for the house; there are still three or four orders Which appear on the order paper, also two or three items of supply remain to be passed, then there are the French agreements and the shipping bill to which reference has just been made and redistribution. Are there any other measures apart from those that are likely to be introduced this session?

Topic:   LEGISLATION BEFORE THE HOUSE AND TO BE INTRODUCED
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. E. N. RHODES (Minister of Finance):

As at present advised I think there are no others, certainly none of a major character.

Topic:   LEGISLATION BEFORE THE HOUSE AND TO BE INTRODUCED
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SEED GRAIN DISTRIBUTION


On the orders of the day: Mr. JOSEPH A. BRADETTE (North Timiskaming): If my information is correct the federal government distributes seed' grain in the western provinces. Would it not be possible in view of the large number of settlers who are unable to buy their seed grain this spring, that a distribution of seed grain should be made in northern Ontario?


CON

Robert Weir (Minister of Agriculture)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. ROBERT WEIR (Minister of Agriculture) :

The federal department does not

distribute seed grain excepting under the subsidies of the province. The subsidies for Quebec and Ontario are used in one particular way on the recommendation of the people who are in the best position to advise. There is a small part of the subsidy in the west that is used to distribute newer strains of grasses which are returnable.

Topic:   SEED GRAIN DISTRIBUTION
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CANADA-FRANCE TRADE AGREEMENT


On the orders of the day:


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, might I ask the hon. Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan) if the report in the press is correct that a treaty has been signed with France; if so, will it be tabled forthwith?

Government Loan

Topic:   CANADA-FRANCE TRADE AGREEMENT
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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. C. H. CAHAN (Secretary of State):

An arrangement has been made to sign the treaty at 12 o'clock to-day, and I hope that if the printers are up to date copies of two treaties, or rather of a trade agreement and a convention between Canada and France concerning the rights of nationals and commercial and shipping matters, will be laid upon the table within a short time thereafter. The bills to approve the same will by leave of the house, be introduced forthwith. I think one bill with its schedule will be printed early to-day, the other schedule is very long and there may be a delay of some hours in respect to the second bill.

Topic:   CANADA-FRANCE TRADE AGREEMENT
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GOVERNMENT LOAN, $750,000,000


REDEMPTION OF OBLIGATIONS AND PURCHASE OF UN MATURED SECURITIES * Hon. E. N. RHODES (Minister of Finance) moved the third reading of Bill No. 103, to authorize the raising, by way of loan, of certain sums of money for the public service.


UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. G. G. COOTE (Macleod):

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I happened to be out of the house yesterday morning when this bill received second reading and was passed in committee of the whole. There are two or three observations that I would like to make and I would like, if I may, to direct a question to the minister. I have not yet had the privilege of reading Hansard so that I have to depend on what I have heard with regard to the statement of the minister yesterday.

I wamt to suggest to the minister that from this time on no bonds of the dominion should be issued payable in gold. I made this suggestion to the Minister of.Finance of Canada eight or nine years ago. I am afraid he did not see fit to act on it at that time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT LOAN, $750,000,000
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

I did not catch the suggestion.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT LOAN, $750,000,000
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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I say I made the suggestion to the Minister of Finance eight or nine years ago that no bonds should be issued payable in gold or in anything but lawful money of Canada. I want to suggest to the minister, if he has not already so decided, that the bonds to be issued under this act should be payable only in lawful money of Canada, not in gold or in foreign funds.

Then I suggest to the minister that these bonds contain a provision under which the government may call them in at any time. I think the minister will realize the wisdom of such a provision.

Incidentally, I also urge that- our money policy be such as to maintain as nearly as

possible stable purchasing power for money which is paid in interest to the bondholder. I think that would be one of the first steps to lower interest rates in Canada. I do not think it necessary to remind the minister of the necessity of lowering these rates. One step has already been taken by lowering interest rates on savings bank deposits. The chief factor governing interest rates in Canada, particularly on long term obligations, is the rate paid on Dominion of Canada bonds. I would just like to remind the minister that our public debt, that is provincial, municipal and dominion, now amounts to over six and a half billion dollars, which at an average rate of five per cent-I think we are paying more than that-means an annual interest charge of $325,000,000. I just mention these figures to impress upon the minister and the house the necessity of lowering interest rates.

Lastly, I want to suggest to the minister that the new loan should be floated at a very much lower rate of interest. I think he should fix three per cent as the rate to be paid on these bonds. I believe that rate is justified by the price level obtaining in Canada now. Whatever the government may decide as to the rate, the principle enunciated by the Prime Minister three or four years ago should be followed now, and banks and insurance companies, particularly insurance companies, should be compelled to invest a percentage of their reserves in such bond issues. I understand that the minister must meet this year treasury bills amounting to $110,000,000 bonds maturing, $169,000,000, and budget deficit $100,000,000, roughly $380,000,000 in all. My last suggestion to the minister is that if he does not get sufficient subscriptions from the public to cover this amount at the rate of interest I have suggested, he should issue enough Dominion notes to make up the balance. He has now ample precedent for that in the action which has been taken in the United States, where the president is authorized to issue three billion dollars of United States notes to retire maturing obligations. I think that as the government has been following a so-called "sound money" policy for the last two or three years, that of keeping our money good in the United States, the minister might now very well follow the United States precedent and meet part of these maturing bonds with an issue of Dominion notes. If public subscriptions are not sufficient, he should at any rate meet the remainder with an issue of Dominion notes. I think the rate of interest should not exceed three per cent.

Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.

Sup-ply-Pensions

Topic:   GOVERNMENT LOAN, $750,000,000
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PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH


The house in committee of supply, Mr. Sullivan in the chair. War veterans' allowances, $1,650,000.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It was understood that under this item the members of committee would be free to discuss any matter they may wish to take up with respect to the minister's department.

Topic:   PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Mr. Chairman, the right hon. gentleman is quite correct.

Topic:   PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH
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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

Under this item I should

like to direct the attention of the minister to complaints that have come to me, and I suppose to other members of parliament also, from different soldier organizations. I think the chief complaint is that the scale of relief afforded by the department to pensioners has not been equal to the scale afforded by many municipalities to those receiving unemployment relief. I had a communication from the Canadian War Disability Pensioners' Association of Winnipeg in which they say:

No clothing allowance is made to the needy pensioner whereas the civilians receive the necessary clothing in greater Winnipeg, either through the Greater Winnipeg Welfare Association or through the city council.

Many of our needy pensioners have been out of employment for an extended period. They are not only needy and destitute but many of them and their families are without clothing absolutely to protect them against this climate. If they appeal to the welfare association of the city or municipal councils, they are told they must look to the Department of Pensions and National Health. When they go to the department they are told that there is no provision for clothing. The result is obvious. . Many of our needy pensioners are without clothing, and it is impossible to provide their children with the necessary clothing to permit them to attend school.

The matter of clothing is not a matter of minor consideration but a very substantial one.

During the past week the temperature has registered in Greater Winnipeg continuously below zero ranging from 20 to 35 degrees.

Then they have another complaint with regard to dependent children:

The scale of relief allowance to the dependents of needy pensioners applies only to boys sixteen years of age and under and girls seventeen years of age and under. If they exceed that age no allowance is made in respect thereof, even if they are unemployed and dependent, whereas relief to civilians is based upon the number of dependents in the family irrespective of age.

I think those matters should be cleared up by the minister before this item passes.

While I am on my feet perhaps I might direct attention to the next complaint as well, which has to do with the purchase of fuel:

Civilian needy in greater Winnipeg are enabled through a special arrangement by the city of Winnipeg to purchase their fuel at what might be termed " wholesale prices," in any event at prices substantially less than the retail price, whereas needy pensioners must pay the retail price which it can be conservatively stated is at least 25 per cent in excess of the price paid by the civilian needy on direct relief.

The first question I should like to direct to the minister is with regard to the clothing for pensioners in Winnipeg. Is the department continuing to pursue that policy of refusing to give a clothing allowance to pensioners and their families?

Topic:   PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH
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CON

Murray MacLaren (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

The subject to which my hon. friend refers has reference to unemployment relief and not to war veterans' allowances. The committee will observe that in the vote for unemployment relief this year there is an increase of S375,000, and last year there was also a large increase. In past years it has not been the practice to distribute this unemployment relief during the summer months but because of unemployment conditions of late this relief has been distributed the year round, though to a lesser degree in the summer when the same expense is not incurred with regard to the provision of fuel.

The policy pursued in the distribution of unemployment relief at present is that the amount distributed to pensioners-and of course these are small pensioners, because men who draw large pensions are able to get along without this relief-shall be not less than the amount allowed in the district or municipality in which the pensioner lives. Conditions vary in different portions of the country, and there has been no attempt to fix an exact amount for all parts, for the reason that as local conditions vary the amounts granted by local authorities varies also. Substantially, however, there is not a very great discrepancy. When I say that the department has been granting not less than what is allowed locally, in point of fact in some cases it is rather in excess of the local amounts. In no case has there been a reduction. If a municipality has lessened its allowances the department has not followed suit.

I am afraid a general conversation was going on in the committee which prevented my hearing much of what my hon, friend read, but I gathered that he was presenting complaints with regard to the distribution of clothing.

Supply-Pensions

Topic:   PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH
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May 12, 1933