Mr. FREDERIC DORION (Charlevoix-Saguenay):
Mr. Speaker, I feel called upon to say a few words on this budget.
First, I must say that, like at least 90 per cent of the Canadian taxpayers, I was deeply and painfully shocked to realize that as I shall presently show-this budget is but a further indication of the anti-family and antisocial policies which have victimized us for so long.
Honest and conscientious citizens are all the more disappointed in finding that this anti-family policy, which is becoming more and more apparent in our legislation, is but an offshoot of an economic system managed by an irresponsible bureaucracy which seems bent on destroying or at least weakening the family sole basic unit of a well-organized society.
I know that many hon. members to your right, Mr. Speaker, watch the developments of this policy with fear; I realize that many of them eagerly wish for more human legislation that will be kinder to families. I know what many of them think of this budget but, unfortunately, party discipline compels them to vote for it though they would like to disapprove and censure the government's policy in this instance.
Surely, I need not speak at great length to prove that the existence and expansion of the family are essential to social life.
To confirm my statement I need only quote the late and lamented Cardinal Villeneuve.
During a week to social studies, in 1923, Cardinal Villeneuve, at that time Father Villeneuve, said, in Montreal, in reference to the family considered as social unit:
Thus family, not the individual, is the social unit; it is a simple body in society, made up of elements so numerous and so different. To understand social order, one has to begin with the family. Political society is superimposed upon organized families, without however destroying them.
And further on:
Public legislation, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, should take scrupulous and constant care not to crush or break up the family, a cell in the social structure. On the contrary, according to Antoine, it is the great and peremptory duty of the legislator to recognize, protect, and strengthen the fundamental rights which the family has received, not from the state, but from God, author of nature.
The Budget-Mr. Dorion
Social organization aims today at protecting, apparently at least, through an abundance of texts, the individual, his fortune, his political rights, his outside relations with his neighbours, but it holds nothing or practically nothing, it destroys all, or nearly all of what is left of old legal traditions that could protect the family against so many undermining assaults. It kills rather the principles of life, the organic ties which sustain the family, and through the family it affects society, and through society human happiness. Neither the authority of the father, nor the primacy of the husband, nor the subordination of the son and the servant, nor the vital indissolubility >and the exclusive unity of the matrimonial tie are preserved, rather they are surrendered for the sake of peace, often quite gladly.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that to a certain extent that statement contains a criticism that applies to the budget we are now discussing. Indeed, one of the anti-family aspects of this budget is the fact that, against the hopes of everybody, the wishes of every taxpayer and the request of every family head, no tax reduction has been announced.
There is no doubt that in view of the huge surplus announced by the minister, he should have raised to at least S2,500 the taxable minimum of the married taxpayer. I shall not take time to go over all the reasons already given in support of that request, but there is no doubt that such a change is absolutely necessary because of the increase in the cost of living.
The government should at least have granted relief to heads of families by increasing the exemption to which he is entitled for his children. It is astounding to see how, through this income tax measure, parents are penalized for wishing to give their children the care and education they require. It seems that none of those responsible for the present state of affairs have the slightest notion of what it means to support a son or daughter who wishes to continue his or her studies. There is another objectionable feature in the present Income Tax Act. That is the deduction at the source irrespective of the type of employment. In my constituency, for instance, and in others too, there are quite a number of logging-camps which for part of the year hire only farmers, sailors or fishermen to work in the woods during the off-season.
Were the wages paid these loggers put on a yearly basis, they would be liable to income
tax; so the employers have to deduct it at the source.
Now, at the end of the year, those people have to file returns and produce receipts which are often mislaid, and afterwards they have to wait nearly a year before being refunded what has been deducted from their salary. That system causes much inconvenience and trouble, in addition to considerable administration expenses. What is more serious, those taxpayers are generally in urgent need of that money, which is theirs anyway, and as often as not their families have to suffer.
Why does not the government eliminate all those difficulties by deciding, for instance, that the salary of certain seasonal employees will no longer be subject to such a deduction? Since a distinction is made between seasonal and regular employment in other legislation, for example in the Unemployment Insurance Act, why should it not also be done in the case of the Income Tax Act?
In this connection, there is also another matter which I should like to point out. It so happens that quite a number of young people who, during the war, had left their homes to work in industrial plants have gone back to their rural communities. They have settled there, have married and have resumed an occupation which pays less than their wartime jobs, their income being, at times, barely sufficient to provide a living for their new families.
Now a great number of these new heads of families are at present receiving from the Income Tax Division certain claims for balances owing for 1943, 1944 and 1945. I know of many cases where these young bread-winners have had to deny their families the necessities of life in order to repay the revenue department.
This makes for social unrest. I would therefore ask the government to cancel all claims of less than $500, against heads of families, for income tax levied during the war years. The total of those claims would certainly not be very large and it would mean a great relief for those young families.
Mr. Speaker, the government has been swamped with requests for special consideration to family men. The bishops' request for higher exemptions is significant. They had given it much thought and they were surely not looking after their own interests. I agree
The Budget-Mr. Lacombe
that during the war every Canadian without exception was expected to contribute fully to the war effort. Perhaps it is necessary to impose unduly high taxes during tihe war, but I contend that the government is violating the rights of the family by keeping the taxes at the same level in peacetime.
I was particularly impressed by the fact that the minister did not deem it advisable to grant tax reductions, although he encouraged night clubs, places of entertainment and similar organizations, by abolishing the tax formerly levied upon tihem. It is admittedly a strange attitude. I remember that on the day following the budget speech, newspapers were filled with advertisements from places of amusement, night clubs and so forth, soliciting young people's increasing patronage.
Taxes still fall heavily upon the shoulders of the family man, while habitues of night clubs and other places of amusement are encouraged to patronize such places which certainly do not help bring the family closer together.
As most of those who seek this kind of entertainment are single, everything seems planned to entice them away from their family.
Mr. Speaker, if our legislation were imbued with a more Christian, a sounder moral spirit, there would be no need to fear the menace that is now hanging over society.
It is useless to pass social legislation if we give it the anti-family character found in so many of our enactments such as the Family Allowances Act with its decreasing rate, the various housing acts that promote the building of two and three-roomed apartments and many other pieces of legislation. Such enactments can never be effective; they will give maximum results only if based on the interests of the family rather than on those of the individual.
Subtopic: THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE