March 29, 1949

PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

And the government refused to reconvene the conference. That is the answer to it.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

And still do.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

May I say that in my view those who scuttled the conference of 1945 and 1946 have a great responsibility on their shoulders. But so has the government a responsibility for using the scuttling of that conference, whoever did it, as an excuse for doing nothing in the years which have come and gone since then.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

The government scuttled the conference; do not blame us.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

For the purposes of what I am now saying, that does not matter. The scuttling of the conference has been used and is still being used as an excuse for doing nothing. Meantime the cost of living has gone up; meantime the plight of the old age pensioner has got worse.

Not only is there no sign of any improvement for the old age pensioners in any of the ways I have indicated, but it so happens that neither is there any private member's motion on the order paper calling specifically for an amendment of the Old Age Pensions Act, as it now stands. Apparently hon. members expected action by the government. There are several motions on the order paper somewhat different from that, in that they ask for something I have advanced, namely an over-all contributory plan of social insurance. But in the meantime even those of us who are advancing that realize that the old age pensioners on pension today must not be asked to wait until we have a perfect statute, and to starve in the meantime.

The one thing that can be done now is for this government to bring into the House of Commons an amendment to the present Old Age Pensions Act increasing the amount, lowering the eligible age and doing away with the means test.

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PC
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

The plea I am making today is for an amendment to the act. Before this session goes any further I ask that the government tell the house what it is prepared to lay before us, and let us vote on it. Let us vote on a bill amending the Old Age Pensions Act, a bill doing those three things- increasing the amount, lowering the eligible age and removing the means test. I need not argue those three points. The need for at least $50 a month is self-evident. Further, I believe the Minister of National Health and

Old Age Pensions s

Welfare himself will admit that there are great numbers of people in the group from sixty-five to sixty-nine who are in just as serious circumstances as those in the group over seventy, and that consideration should be given to them; Again, we all realize the unfairness of the means test as it stands in the act.

As I have said, my reason for bringing this up in the house today is that many sections of the Canadian community have had little things handed to them during the course of this session. We welcome everything that has come, even if it does seem to coincide with the eve of an election. But, Mr. Speaker, it is really disgraceful that at a time when a great many announcements are being made in the House of Commons, and when a budget is brought down which does something for a great many people, we should leave these elderly citizens, whom we all recognize as deserving, with no improvement in their impossible position.

A great many things have been announced during the course of this session which were not included in the speech from the throne. So the government need not take the position that they cannot bring it in at this time because it was not mentioned in the speech from the throne. If they will bring in an amendment now they will have our plaudits for doing so, and they will soon find the house will support them in any such proposal they may make along the lines I am suggesting.

I should like now to take a moment to cite to the government-indeed I call it to the attention of the house and members generally -that -when a change is made in the eligible age there will also have to be a change in the percentage distribution of the cost as between the federal and provincial governments. I have done considerable work with figures on this matter, all of which adds up to a huge table which I shall not read and which I shall not ask permission to place on Hansard. After all, it would take up a great deal of space.

What I have done, however, shows what it would mean to the provinces if the age limit were lowered to sixty-five and the provinces were asked to keep on paying 25 per cent of the cost of old age pensions. The fact is- and the figures I have worked out prove it- that that would be prohibitive. The amounts the provinces would have to pay if they were to pay 25 per cent of the pension between sixty-five and sixty-nine in many cases would be equal to the total amount they are now paying on old age pensions; and in at least one case it would be in excess of the total amount the province is now paying for old age pensions.

If the government accedes to our request to increase the amount and lower the age at the same time the burden of the 25 per cent share of the provinces would be so impossible that many of the provinces would not be able to accept the change.

Thus when the government brings down the proposal, which I hope it will do at this session, to increase the amount and lower the age, and to do away with the means test, at the same time they will have to make a change in the distribution of the cost. I urge that, not just because I want to protect provincial treasuries, but in the interests of the old age pensioners themselves. I know that if an amendment merely lowered the age to sixty-five and did not change the 75-25 ratio many of the provinces would say that they could not take advantage of it because the cost would be too great; so the age limit of seventy would still stand, or the increase in the amount would not be passed on.

It is not necessary to deal at greater length with this matter. However I feel it is one which the house should present to the government in the best way it can, namely in the form of an amendment which I shall propose in a moment-an amendment to the motion to go into committee of supply. Before doing so, however, may I remind Your Honour that this subject, dealing as it does specifically with the question of amending the Old Age Pensions Act, which is now on the statute books, comes clearly within the provisions of citation 345 in Beauchesne's third edition. It is not any one of the matters the discussion of which that citation prohibits. Also, Mr. Speaker, I would draw your attention to Speakers' rulings found at pages 699 and 799 of Beauchesne's third edition, which make it clear that on a motion to go into supply wide latitude is to be allowed. One Speaker, as reported on page 799, makes the statement that any reasonable grievance could not be considered as irrelevant. There is no question about this being a reasonable grievance; it is a very serious grievance in the minds of a great many people.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

What was the ruling or

citation?

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

The basic citation is 345 in the third edition; if the minister is looking at the second edition, it is citation 488.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

How can the hon. member tell that?

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

The Speakers' rulings that I refer to are found in the third edition- they are not in the little second edition which the minister has in his hand-at pages 699 and 799.

There are on the order paper resolutions dealing with a contributory plan, but I am not proposing that at this stage, although I am strongly in favour of it. Hence those motions do not prevent me from moving this one, for its terms are distinctly different. There are also citations that make clear the right of a private member on going into supply to move amendments which do not directly involve the expenditure of money. In other words, they can be abstract motions, and in that sense they are quite acceptable. Citation 444 in the third edition makes this clear, and there are at least three Speakers' decisions, all of them in the third edition, one at page 537, one at page 519 and one at page 529, which confirm the right of a member to move a motion which, although it refers to something that might later involve the expenditure of money, is simply an expression of the opinion of the house, and does not directly involve the expenditure of money.

Therefore I have worded my amendment in keeping with all these provisions. I have worded it in keeping with the form for this occasion which is listed in Beauchesne's third edition, and I am fully satisfied that it is perfectly in order. Furthermore, I contend that this is the kind of motion that this house should have the right to vote upon. In fact I feel that a free vote should be permitted, so that the government may be informed as to what are the wishes and desires of members of all parties.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, confident that I am expressing a serious grievance; confident that I am expressing the wishes, not only of elder citizens throughout this country but of our Canadian people generally; confident that I am expressing the wishes of members of this house in all parties; confident that my motion is clearly within the rules, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson):

That all the words alter the word "that" to the end of the question be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

"this house desires to record its opinion that the government should give immediate consideration to the introduction of amendments to the Old Age Pensions Act with a view to making possible an increase in the amount of the pension, the lowering of the eligible age, and the elimination of the means test."

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I would call the attention of the hon. member to the fact that there are motions on the order paper which would permit a debate of this same question. I have given the hon. member an opportunity to express his grievance, but I regret that I cannot accept his amendment. I-would call the attention of the house to citation 350 in Beauchesne's third edition, which reads:

It is out of order to move, as an amendment to another question, a motion standing on the order paper as a notice of motion.

Old Age Pensions

Therefore I regret that I have to declare the amendment out of order.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

With deepest respect but confident that there is no motion on the order paper which is precisely in the terms of the one I have just moved, I must appeal Your Honour's ruling.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Do I understand that the hon. member is appealing?

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

Yes, if you please.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Is it the pleasure of the house that Mr. Speaker's decision be sustained? Those in favour will please say yea.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Yea.

. Mr. Speaker: Those against will please say nay.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Nay.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And some members having risen:

Mr. Speaker put the question as follows:

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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent moved

, seconded by Mr. Abbott, that I do now leave the Chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of supply. Mr. Knowles moved as an amendment, seconded by Mr. Nicholson, that all the words after the word "that" to the end of the question be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

This house desires to record its opinion that the government should give immediate consideration to the introduction of amendments to the Old Age Pensions Act with a view to making possible an increase in the amount of the pension, the lowering of the eligible age, and the elimination of the means test.

As there are before the house motions relating to the same subject, I declared the amendment out of order, basing my ruling on citation 350 of Beauchesne, third edition, which reads as follows:

It is out of order to move, as an amendment to another question, a motion standing on the order paper as a notice of motion.

From this ruling Mr. Knowles appeals.

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March 29, 1949