June 24, 1947

CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I should like to proceed with my argument.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

I should like an answer.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

The hon. member who has the floor cannot be interrupted without his consent.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. During the war the people of Canada gave to Russia $167 million worth of equipment; we gave to New Zealand, $15 million worth; to India, $18 million; to France, $25 million; to China, $39 million, and to Australia, $91 million. I am not complaining about those gifts, because I supported Canada's mutual aid programme enthusiastically during the war, but I contend that if we were able to make that sort of contribution toward victory we should do better now than to expect our old people to live on $30 a month.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

I did not get an answer regarding Saskatchewan.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

The hon. member may make his speech following mine and I shall

be glad to answer his questions. We gave to the United Kingdom 196,961,000 pounds of cheese, 9,979,000 pounds of butter, 566,000 cases of milk, 907,000 cases of eggs, 29,403,172,000 pounds of bacon and so on down the list. In addition, we were able to create for ourselves a higher standard of living than we had ever before enjoyed in the history of the country.

Unfortunately our old age pensioners were unable to take advantage of the improved business conditions in Canada. Their incomes were fixed; their cost of living went up, and actually they were compelled to live on less food than they. were getting before the war. The last issue of the Canada Gazette contains statistics in connection with the rising cost of living. I find that the cost of food is up fifty-six per cent this month as compared with the pre-war period. I find that stewing beef is up ninety-one per cent; lard is up 141 per cent; shortening, 115 per cent; butter, 64 per cent; prunes, 74 per cent, and corn syrup, 81 per cent. Consequently the old age pensioners of Canada are compelled to get along with less butter, less bacon, less milk, less cheese and less bread. When we exported such huge quantities during the war, why should we, as we enter the post-war period, tell our old people that they will have to tighten their belts even further?

Just today the Prime Minister announced that Canada is going to give $20,000,000 as a contribution toward the post-UNRRA programme. The leader of this group spoke for all of us when he said we were for that. How is it that Canada is able to give $20,000,000 on the announcement of the Prime Minister, and we are prepared to give only $20,000,000 to supplement the incomes of our old age pensioners?

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

This will cost more than

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

The minister said the other day that this would cost the federal treasury about $20,000,000 more.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

We shall be spending almost $100,000,000 this year on old age pensions.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I should like the minister to correct me if I am wrong when I say that he said the other day that this proposal would cost the federal government about $20,000,000.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

An extra $20,000,000 for this year.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

That it will cost the federal government around $20,000,000 more than we are spending today.

Old Age Pensions

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

May I ask the hon. member a question? Is there any reason-

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I have asked the hon. member to withhold his questions until I have finished. What the old people want is a share of the current production of Canada. They want butter; they want eggs; they want shelter, and they want fuel. We are denying them the necessities of life, because the cost of living is increasing so rapidly that the pensions we are now paying actually do not provide the old age pensioners with as high a standard of living as they had before.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Melville Warren

Liberal

Mr. WARREN:

Will Saskatchewan do what Ontario and British Columbia are doing?

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I would appreciate it if my hon. friend would withhold his questions!* He can say anything he wants when I have finished. I should like to ask the minister how he comes to the conclusion that $30 or $32, $33 or $38 or $40 will provide an adequate standard of living for elderly people.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

The hon. member will recall that in answer to the hon. member for Vancouver East I said that $50 was not enough.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

Let us make it S50.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink
CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I should like to be permitted to conclude my speech. Canada has been most generous to some of her citizens. I mentioned that our standard of living was higher during the war than during any previous period in our history. I have here the statistical summary of the Bank of Canada, and on page 48 there will be found a table showing the net income to stockholders in the industrial classification. If you compare the net income received in 1938 with that received in 1945 you will find that in the case of grain mill products their position improved from $0-2 million in the red to $2-6 million in the clear. Those in the food industry improved their position from $8-5 million to $12-2 million. Those in the drink business improved their position from $5-8 million to $12-3 million. The tobacco industry did not fare quite so well, but the pulp and paper industry improved their position from $0-3 million to $15-8 million, and so on down the list. It will be found that industrial concerns in Canada greatly improved their position during the war.

At my request, certain sessional papers were brought down showing just what the government is doing with regard to the payment of pensions in some of the departments. I suggest that the Department of Justice is the department in which citizens of this country should seek to find employment if they wish

to have adequate pensions for their old age. I find that eighty-two pensioners listed by the Department of Justice are getting pensions totalling $372,397, or annual pensions of $4,541. I might point out that these pensions are paid without any means test; there are no questions asked as to whether there are children who are able to provide support, whether you have stocks or bonds and so on. When those eighty-two citizens receive $378 a month without a means test I find it difficult to understand how 200,000 citizens of this country can be expected to get by on $360 for the whole year.

In conclusion, 1 wish to say that Canada has done many things of which we are proud. "Canada from Sea to Sea" states:

Land, climate and people are generally recognized as the chief elements in making of a nation. What the people do with the land and its resources, helped or hindered by climate, makes the country's economic history. How they organize their united strength for freedom and security makes their political history. Social and cultural development can be measured by the extent to which people master their environment and build on the traditions they have inherited.

It also mentions that about thirty per cent of our vast output of raw materials was allocated to our Canadian forces during the war. It says:

Almost overnight Canada was transformed from a producer of food and raw materials into one of the world's major manufacturing nations.

It mentions that Canada leads the world in the output of newsprint, nickel, radium, platinum and asbestos, and ranks second in wood-pulp, aluminum and gold, and that sufficient Canadian wheat is grown annually on Canadian farms to meet the normal bread requirements of 92.000,000 people. It goes on to say:

During the war Canada supplied the United Kingdom with 72 per cent of its bacon, 52 per cent of its wheat, 35 per cent of its canned fish and a quarter of its cheese. Canada stood fourth among the United Nations in total war production.

Let me remind the house that Canada gave of these riches to help feed people who were fighting for our liberty, and all I ask now is that we should give of our surplus so that the elder citizens of this country will not have to look forward to the years ahead with fear and dread, but we should see that they get enough food to eat and enable them to obtain warm clothing, medical services and adequate shelter.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. JEAN FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata):

of people whom I know personally who are entitled to old age pensions due to their disabilities or infirmities and who cannot get them because they have not reached the age of seventy or because they are not blind at forty. That is a story which is common knowledge to all. Therefore, sir, one must realize that reform is a very difficult thing. It requires determination, good will and honesty of purpose. It is very difficult indeed and takes a long time to be accomplished.

Of course, if some hon. members agree that a survey should be made, after a selection, an honest selection, a fair selection between the needy cases and the other cases, everybody will realize that it is a hard thing to do. Once more what will be considered will not be the need today but what is to be done to please. That is that. The aim is not to accomplish one's duty; the aim is to please the largest possible number. Well, if it is the definite purpose of the government to please the largest number of people they are bound to make that survey; they, are bound to complete it after a selection, and they have to decide not to pay any longer pensions to those who have received it as a pure gift or a bribe without being entitled to it, and to use that amount to fill the gaps and to help those who are really in need. I hope that is clear enough.

I shall make another suggestion to the minister. It is impossible to pay pensions from the cradle to the grave to all persons in Canada. But in a society, in an organized state, support must come from the state to those who cannot get it otherwise. There should be a campaign of education to teach the people the purpose of old age pensions. It is to help those who cannot get any help otherwise. I will tell you more than that. I said at first, that the contribution to the provinces is necessary because the provinces have no means to pay the old age pensions alone, but the management of old age pensions by the provinces was a mistake, as it should be by the municipalities themselves.

I have been informed that in some western provinces no old age pension is granted unless it is approved beforehand by the municipal council. That is one thing, but I will go one step further. Since the municipal administration is the closest to the people and since the taxpayers have the opportunity to judge if the money is well spent or wrongly spent by the municipality, there should be in each municipality a list of those who receive old age pensions. If such lists were posted at the entrance to the city hall in each municipality, I am sure, that the effect would be magical,

and there are many people who would be ashamed to consider any longer the acceptance of any grant of old1 age pensions.

I do not want anyone to conclude from what I have said that I am opposed to old age pensions; far from it. The thing is now on the statute books and we cannot dispense with it. This is the danger of social legislation. When the people have tasted something like this it is impossible as a rule to deprive them of the whole thing. But the matter can be settled in accordance with the very high principle of justice, fairness and honesty to which I have referred, and the people will appreciate the fact that pensions must be paid only to those who are entitled to them on account of sickness, disability and poverty, lack of support, and the fact that they are alone in the world. When a man or a woman is alone in the world the state must come to his or her help, because he or she is one of us and we cannot abandon them on the road.

These are a few considerations that I have wanted to make for a very long time. It is high time to come to our senses and not to practise "electoralism" with matters such as old age pensions. What is "electoralism"? It is spending the people's funds without a useful purpose and just to please or appease a certain category of people. At the present time we are pleasing the old; it is all right; I have respect for the old. My best friends were very old people who were very kind to me and whom I shall never forget. I have respect for the old; I am ready to assist the old, but I think it would be an insult to offer crutches to an old gentleman who is able to walk and that is why, sir, I shall not insist any longer on it. I think I have made my position clear. I sincerely believe that if an independent and honest survey were made of the whole question of old age pensions one would realize that in many of the cases these pensions are a waste of money because they are given to people who do not need them. I believe it is absolutely absurd to put all the old people in the same category. It is unfair to them, and if it is accepted by them it shows how low our population has fallen, but I do not believe it. If hon. gentlemen who are not convinced of what I have said received the complaints, the just- and fair complaints, that I receive from people who will not be allowed to receive anything under this scheme and who deserves it more than the old Croesuses who get it they would change their mind immediately. It is not because I have a heart of stone that I have spoken as I have done.

Topic:   OLD AGE PENSIONS
Subtopic:   INCREASES IN AMOUNTS AND INCOME ALLOWANCE
Sub-subtopic:   MODIFICATIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Permalink

June 24, 1947