March 4, 1949

PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ross (Souris):

Read more slowly.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnott:

If these remarks are kept up I will take on the interrupters one by one inside the house or outside. I also wish to thank the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) for the broad health scheme which he has presented. Possibly what I said, as reported in Hansard' of July 15, 1946, did no harm. What I said is as follows:

No one can say that the need was ever greater than it is now for hospitals in every small community. The town in which I reside has been pleading for a hospital for the past twenty-five years and is still without a hospital.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Why?

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnoil:

You can have your laugh

first; I will have mine last.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

A coalition government.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnoit:

Let me say through you, Mr. Speaker, that I wish to thank the minister at this time because through his health scheme the town in which I am interested, Beausejour, is going to receive $16,000 from the dominion government this coming spring for a 16-bed hospital. A little farther east, the town of Whitemouth is to have a 12-bed hospital, and is receiving $12,000 from the dominion government. Therefore the constituency which I have the honour to represent is benefiting from this scheme in the amount of $28,000 from the dominion government alone. The province of Manitoba is contributing a like amount, making a total of $56,000, before the people themselves are asked to contribute a dime. No doubt the people residing in these districts feel very

grateful to the government for extending to them this amount of money, and a program of this kind. The last vote in Whitemouth, which was taken on the 28th of February, carried by 92 per cent.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

Coalition co-operation.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnott:

I should like to deal now

with the matter of old age pensions, something that my friends on the other side have been harping upon, but if you will follow Hansard throughout the years you will see that I have been advocating the same thing, and I will continue to do so tonight. With the cost of living as high as it has been in the last couple of years, those who are receiving old age pensions are having a very difficult time trying to exist. With the high cost of food, clothing and shelter, I do not see how it is possible at all for these old people, many of whom have contributed largely to the early pioneering of Canada, to get along. I believe there are some 280,000 men and women in Canada who are at present receiving the old age pension, and there are many more who would like to receive the benefits. But, owing to their pride in being able to possess their own piece of land at the present time without any government help or interference, they are reluctant to make application for the old age pension. The government have been continually reminded by the opposition of the pitiful conditions of old age pensioners. The opposition has been encouraging the government to spend more and more and at the same time criticizing the government for their heavy taxation, and one is at a loss to know just how speeches of that calibre can bring any relief. I may say at this time that I believe the government always welcomes just criticism, but for many people who are here the criticism which has been leveled has not offered any remedy. There are some thirteen million people in Canada today, and they are able to produce twice as much as they can consume. Therefore if there is starvation among some-

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

Two hundred thousand

unemployed.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnott:

-it is not because Canada as a nation cannot produce. It is because there is a lack of proper distribution. Therefore I want to draw this matter to the attention of the government. I think it is their duty to pay close attention to the matter of distribution, and I should like the government to give these old people an increase in the pension which they now receive. I am suggesting that, with the present cost of living, their pension should not be less than $50 per month. Some people will say this will actu-

The Address-Mr. Sinnott ally mean an increase in taxation. This need not be so. As I said before, there are 280,000 old age pensioners. An increase of $20 per month would mean that $5,600,000 would have to be distributed towards old age pensions. This in turn would provide that amount of spending power in Canada. Old age pensioners do not keep their money. They naturally go to their nearest store for their provisions. This in turn gives the storekeeper an opportunity to buy more goods from the wholesaler, and gives the wholesalers an opportunity to buy more from the producers. In other words, it stimulates Canada's consumption.

There seems to h a trend towards trying to provide help today to everybody from Shanghai to Timbuctoo. I believe it is high time that we started to provide for our old age pensioners first. I wish to submit to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) that this money should be injected into the economy of Canada, or this purchasing power should be provided through the Bank of Canada. It would add additional distribution without any further taxation. I believe further that our health and social welfare schemes should be provided for from the same source. Surely, Mr. Speaker, if we are able as a nation to provide twice the amount we consume, a little more attention should be paid to the distribution of the wealth in the country.

I would like to say a word in connection with education and what the dominion government is doing to help finance this most important field. We have heard much talk about dominion-provincial relations, and at this time I wish to point out the benefits Manitoba has received since the last dominion-provincial agreement was signed. Formerly the dominion government contributed to Manitoba some $8 million and the province in turn did not see fit, with this small amount of money, to contribute very much towards education. However, since the last agreement was signed, Manitoba has received from the dominion government $13,500,000 or a gain of $5,500,000 over the previous figure. With this general increase the province saw fit last year to pass a larger amount of money on to the municipalities, thereby reducing their taxation. It is therefore quite plain that the dominion government is at the present time contributing $5,500,000 towards education in Manitoba.

Of all expenditures paid out of municipal budgets, the largest, most important and most continuous is in connection with education. In almost every school district education costs amount to almost fifty per cent of the total taxation, and many of the less wealthy municipalities find it most difficult to carry

1186

The Address-Mr. Sinnott the cost of education. Last year, after this additional money was received from the dominion government, tax cuts were quite noticeable throughout the municipalities. However, I do not believe it has been pointed out to the rural districts or to any of the school districts that the dominion government has contributed largely to these school grants. For most of the municipalities this plan will substantially ease the burden of educational costs which they have been carrying. It is a help which they need. Educational costs have been increasing over recent years; moreover, if the municipalities are to take advantage of other programs which will be available to them, in the way of road building, health and the like, the burden of education costs which they have been carrying must be reduced, if land as the main municipal tax base is going to carry the whole load successfully.

I may point out that the province is not allocating the full amount of this $5,500,000 to the schools, but is keeping some of this money in reserve to meet such services as technical education and other items which may develop in the future. If the municipalities think they are deserving of a larger amount, it will be up to them to make application to their provincial government for a further share of the amount the dominion government is contributing.

Before I conclude I should like to say a word about the urgent need for the early completion of the trans-Canada highway. I happen to be in this fortunate position, that this highway comes through my riding of Springfield regardless of where it is to be built. At the present time No. 1 highway extends from Winnipeg to the Ontario boundary and is hard-surfaced all the way. Therefore it will be very easy for the government to come to a satisfactory deal with the province. As has been stated before, a country like Canada, which is regarded as one of the major powers today, should not be looked upon as a country which cannot develop a national highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. A highway of this kind will not only save us American dollars; it will bring an enormous tourist trade to the west. It will also enable the east and west to become greater friends. Having to travel through the United States in order to reach the western part of Canada, as we do now, is in large measure, I believe, why the east and west are so divided on certain issues. I trust that the Minister of Mines and Resources (Mr. MacKinnon) will therefore lose no time in taking steps to complete this national highway. He is a man of foresight and vision and will not hold up this large undertaking on account of provincial economy. Some of [Mr. Sinnott.l

these so-called men who are advocating provincial rights have asked the dominion government to take the lead in this national undertaking, and I would therefore urge the completion of the trans-Canada highway at as early a date as possible.

I should like to offer one condemnation of the government; and it is something very easy to adjust, because this morning-glory that has blossomed during the last month or so will soon fade. I blame this government for not taking proper steps through its public relations department to place before the people of Canada the great social security plans which have been developed. I blame the government for not placing before the people many of the things it has done in the past. The federal government has been giving large grants to the various provinces, but in return what do we see? There is nothing at all in the press. Anything we see there would indicate that this money comes from the provincial governments themselves, and that is not so. This government is dishing out the money to the provinces, who in turn are doling it out to the municipalities. I believe this government should have far more publicity, so the people throughout the country will know where the money is coming from. I have seen speeches made in this house by various cabinet ministers who have placed their programs squarely before the people, but in the newspapers the next day we do not see a word about it. On the other hand, I have heard foolish speeches which have been published under headlines. If we are to have a sound administration I believe the newspapers should pay attention when a cabinet minister gets up and places an honest-to-goodness program before the people.

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PC

Douglas King Hazen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. D. King Hazen (Saint John-Alberl):

Mr. Speaker, a statement of government policy is outlined in the speech from the throne on which I want to comment this evening, as it affects the future welfare and aspirations of the people of the maritime provinces.

That statement is contained in the sixth paragraph of the speech from the throne, and reads:

You will be asked to approve, subject to the approval of the United States authorities the agreement concluded in 1941 for the development of navigation and power in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin.

This statement of government policy has been received with a good deal of apprehension in the maritime provinces, for it means that another nail, perhaps I should say several more nails are being driven into the coffin of maritime hopes and maritime economy.

It means that another big step is being taken to centralize industry and power in upper Canada. It means that the promises made to the maritimes at the time of confederation are to be set at naught; that maritime ports are not to take their place among "the great emporiums of the world", and that all the resources of the west are not to flow to the bosoms of their harbours, as Sir John A. Macdonald promised and as successive governments planned.

It means that the geographical disadvantages of the maritime provinces are not to be overcome, and that these provinces and their seaports will not be placed on a transportation footing to compete with the other ports for the trade of the great west as was promised.

It means that the maritime ports and maritime interests will be by-passed in the interests of the mid-western part of the United States and of another part of Canada.

It is all very well for the member for Essex West (Mr. Brown), who moved the address in an excellent speech upon which I congratulate him, to say, at page 19:

The co-operative development of the great foreign trade route by our two* great countries for the purpose of sharing the benefits of new commerce will be a landmark in the history of international relations.

That sounds very well, but I am under no delusions about the matter. If canals are built to a depth of thirty feet from Montreal to the great lakes to enable ships of 20,000 tons to navigate that stretch of water, as the hon. gentleman stated is to be the case, not only will our railways which are having difficult times today suffer, but it will be only a matter of a few years before powerful interests will commence a powerful political movement to have that waterway kept open during the winter months-for some weeks past icebreakers have been busy below Montreal opening up channels which will take work away from our longshoremen in the Atlantic ports-and in the end the ports of Saint John and Halifax will be deprived of business in the winter season, business upon which the welfare and livelihood of many of their citizens, their longshoremen, their checkers, their port workers and merchants are dependent to a very great extent.

We have heard a great deal about the centralization of political power in the federal government and the threat to provincial rights. There is no doubt in my mind that this policy of centralization has been fostered by the present government and that it received a great impetus during the war years.

I am opposed to the centralization of power in the federal government at this stage of our

The Address-Mr. Hazen development, as I believe it is a menace to our federal system and a danger to national unity. But I am opposed also to the government adopting policies that will result in the future centralization of economic power in Ontario and Quebec at the expense of other parts of the dominion, particularly at the expense of the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia who entered confederation in the belief and on the understanding that they were to receive a fair share of the benefits and profits that were to result therefrom.

I admit, and I admit quite readily, that some parts of Canada have greater resources than other parts; that, in the very nature of things, there are bound to be larger centres of population, greater wealth, more industries and better markets in some parts of this country than in others, as is the case in most countries. I admit also that distance and economic forces cannot be ignored. But I am opposed to a policy that would establish our Atlantic ports on the great lakes and deprive our longshoremen of work, and our people of business, and violate one of the promises that induced the maritimes to enter confederation.

No one can object to the development of electric power along the international portion of the St. Lawrence river for the benefit of Canada and the United States provided that development pays for itself. But to enter into the development of a deep-sea waterway from Montreal to the great lakes at great cost to the taxpayers of this country is quite another matter and I do not think any member of this house who represents a maritime constituency and who has the welfare of the maritimes at heart could conscientiously support it.

The governments of the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia protested most vigorously, but so far without result, against a horizontal increase of twenty-one per cent in freight rates granted to our railways not very long ago. It seems to me that these governments should give serious consideration to the policy upon which the dominion government proposes to embark in connection with the deepening of the St. Lawrence to the great lakes. Its effect upon the maritime economy will be more serious than any increase in freight rates could possibly be.

I admit that the development of this country must continue, that it cannot be stayed. I acknowledge that I have read with approval Burke's address to the electors of Bristol, but I am not dealing with any one constituency when I speak of this matter. I am dealing with the two provinces by the sea and I deem it my duty to call to the attention of the government what I believe

The Address-Mr. Hazen will be the effect of this policy on the maritime provinces, and to tell the government that if it goes ahead with this policy at the expense of the taxpayers of this country it should see to it that the people in the maritime provinces and the maritime ports receive a quid pro quo. Perhaps I might better express it in this way, that the government should see to it that policies are adopted that will have the effect of developing the resources and the industries of those provinces and promoting the business of the

maritime ports. What we really need in this country is a new national policy.

On motion of Mr. Hazen the debate was adjourned.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

I move that the house do now adjourn. On Monday we shall continue with this debate.

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Motion agreed to, and the house adjourned at ten twenty-two p.m.



Monday, March 7, 1949


March 4, 1949