March 6, 1950

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

The proposals put forward by the

government to the provinces in August, 1945. The government stands by these.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

And still does.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

I am glad to hear the Minister of National Health and Welfare say that; I hope he will so inform the Prime Minister.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

Nothing the Prime Minister said is in any wise to the contrary.

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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 Prime Minister said there never was any offer of a pension without a means test and without contribution, and he said that there could not be, because it just would not work.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Health and Welfare cannot both be right.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

A little further on we find the Minister of National Health and Welfare repeating his stand. This is on page 4715. I need not take time to read it; it simply reiterates all the assurances the minister had given previously, quoting again the Prime Minister's telegram to Premier Douglas of Saskatchewan and the statement of Mr. Ilsley on June 27, 1946, making it crystal clear that the offer of the government still stood, that the government stood by its proposals of 1945.

Then we get on to 1948, when, on June 16, as reported at page 5346 of Hansard, we find the Minister of National Health and Welfare saying:

I am going to say in the kindliest way, as my colleague the Minister of Labour would say, because we have to be realistic, that we have made certain proposals to the provinces. The Prime Minister, the present Minister of Justice, the present Minister of Finance and I have stated the policy of the government with regard to those proposals. They still remain in their broad essentials the policy of the government of Canada.

After that came the Liberal convention in the summer of 1948, which adopted a long platform witih twenty-one planks. Plank 14 reiterated the 1945 dominion-provincial proposals. After that came the election campaign of 1949. Here is a Liberal advertisement which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press just before the election, advertising the various Liberal candidates, including the hon. member for Winnipeg South (Mr. Mutch), who now says he does not advocate social security but rather social justice, which is a very fine distinction; but here is his picture right opposite the words "Vote Liberal-Social security."

Similarly I have here a couple of copies of a publication known as the "Canadian Outlook," put out during the pre-election period, in my city at any rate. From where you are, Mr. Speaker, you can see the headline "Security", and then these words:

The Liberal platform is a living, progressive, practical program of expanding social security.

That was coupled with a warning that if by any chance there was not a clear majority of Liberals in this parliament, the country might not get broader social security. Well, see what we have: an overwhelming Liberal majority, and a denial by the Prime Minister

that the offer of 1945 was ever made. Here it is again in another of these pre-election pamphlets:

Canada's business is your business. Keep Canada prosperous. Safeguard your security on June 27. Vote Liberal.

Well, Mr. Speaker, all this evidence simply makes it clear that what we declare to have been the understanding of the Canadian people is perfectly correct. Ever since August of 1945 they have understood that this government stood for the removal of the means test from the old age pension, and stood for making the pension universal for all Canadians seventy years of age and over, and possibly even younger. Now, however, we have this annoying and very disappointing denial by the Prime Minister; and I am speaking as I do today because I am convinced there simply must be a change in that position.

We hear a great deal of talk today about a contributory system. I want to say that as a matter of fact you cannot have anything other than a contributory system. The people on old age pensions today have contributed to the wealth out of which those pensions are being paid. They contributed to the building up of the economic well-being of this country. But there are other kinds of contributory systems. You could have one in which you would make a direct contribution in return for which you would get a pension based upon the amount of the contribution you had made. I hope we do not get a restricted system of that kind, for it is no better than the private life insurance companies can offer. There is another kind of contributory system under which everyone contributes to the cost of government through income tax, recognizing that one of those costs of government is social security, in return for which everyone would get the old age pension as a matter of right. I give the government this much credit; I believe that is what was in their mind when they made their proposals in 1945. I believe they had in mind that the financing of their proposals might involve adjustments or even increases in the income tax so that the total cost of old age pensions without a means test could be paid out of the federal treasury. That would be a proper scheme, because it would envision people paying according to their ability to pay, and drawing the old age pension at the proper age as a matter of right.

But what is happening now? The people who made those promises last June-especially the Liberals-are getting themselves off the hook by talking about an undefined contributory system, when they know it would take years before such a system could be brought in. One Liberal candidate at least was on the beam in this matter last June. I refer to the hon. member for Vancouver

The Address-Mr. Knowles Centre (Mr. Campney) who, with some of that $21,000 he spent in his election campaign, advertised in the Vancouver News-Herald of June 13, 1949, saying: *

6. I will fight for a contributory retirement pension plan for all persons over sixty-five as a right.

7. Pending the establishment of the foregoing act, I will fight for old age pensions to be paid to men of sixty-five and women of sixty without a means test, the pension to be large enough to ensure an adequate standard of living.

I wish that same member would get up in the house and express those views and fight for the things he said he would fight for, because all we are getting today is a lot of talk about a contributory system which is just an excuse for not supporting our demand for the removal of the means test. I want to say to the Minister of National Health and Welfare, the Prime Minister and those responsible for any steps that may be taken, that if you put old age pensions on a contributory basis first instead of first making the pension universal, you will bedevil old age security in this country for many years to come. That is one of the great problems they are facing in this field in the United States today despite the many good features of their legislation. It arises from the fact that they put it on a contributory basis and did not in the beginning include all United States citizens. Now the problem of extending the coverage is very difficult indeed.

The first thing we should do is precisely what the government proposed back in 1945. Just as what was put forward in 1945 represented a forward move in the thinking of the government about this matter, so .1 believe it is extremely important that at this session of parliament the idea expressed by the Prime Minister the other day should be squelched at the first opportunity. I say that we should not let it go any further; that the important step, the move that must come first, is not getting the contributions started. That will come, and come easily. The move that should come first is getting rid of the means test and making the pension universal and payable to all Canadians. I say to hon. members who are getting these cards and petitions, as I am getting them by the hundreds, that I believe they emphasize the soundness of the position I am taking, that the removal of the means test should come first.

A moment ago I mentioned that in one of of the advertisements appearing in the Winnipeg Free Press of last June calling upon people to vote Liberal in order to get social security-imagine that-the picture of the hon. member for Winnipeg South appeared opposite the words "Social security". He catapulted himself into fame in this country by making an interesting speech in Toronto

The Address-Mr. Knowles some days ago, in which he said that some Liberals might be confused, but he was not; that what we need in this country is not social security but social justice.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

He was just trying out the ice.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

No doubt he was flying a kite. He said:

Social justice means lifting the fallen, aiding the unfortunate, standing between the weak and those who may seek to oppress them.

But he also said:

During the last federal election the Progressive Conservatives and the C.C.F. talked of social security. We Liberals in our platform distinguished between social security and social justice. I confess that some Liberals have failed to note the difference.

Well, that was a very interesting speech to read. He wants social justice; he wants to lift the fallen and aid the unfortunate, to stand between the weak and those who may seek to oppress them. But don't give them social security; just offer it to them in an advertisement just before election day. He went on to say that this talk about social security is fundamentally dishonest. I wonder about this talk of dishonesty when at election time you get this sort of thing- "Vote Liberal and get social security,"-and immediately thereafter you are told in a speech that the Liberals do not stand for social security but only for a vague thing called social justice.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

After all, they can still say they won the election.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Oh, yes; that is the usual song -they won the last election. It will probably oe their last win-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

My hon. friends may laugh, but they know that if they keep on going in this reverse direction so far as these social security proposals are concerned, they will have seen their last victory at the polls in this country.

May I say to the hon. member for Winnipeg South that while a great many people are taking his name in vain because of the speech he made in Toronto, at least he has found friends in the Canadian chamber of commerce. In their most recent newsletter they have an interesting little article entitled "Plain talk from Mr. Mutch". It says that his speech is going to make him some enemies, but it will also make him some friends, and I assume that the friends are amongst the people to whom this newsletter is sent. That speech of the hon. member for Winnipeg

South, according to the report of it in this Canadian chamber of commerce newsletter, included this statement:

The term "social security", Mr. Mutch is reported as saying, "is indefinable, immeasurable and dishonest."

I am just about through, Mr. Speaker, but I want to say something about that remark of the hon. member for Winnipeg South, to the effect that the term "social security" is dishonest. I do not know exactly what he meant, but I have a notion that he meant that it is dishonest to give people the impression that they can get something for nothing. May I say that the thing that I deplore most about the economic order we have at the present time is its dishonesty, as is spelled out by the fact that thousands, yes, millions of people, produce wealth the fruits of which they are not permitted to enjoy. The glaring fact about our economy today is that millions of people do not get the full measure of the wealth they create, whereas a privileged few get far more than they produce. It is that fundamental dishonesty, that injustice, that unfairness, that we are trying to correct by advocating proper measures of social security. I call upon this parliament, and particularly upon the Liberal members of it, to put all the pressure they can on the government to reverse the trend indicated by the Prime Minister on February 20, when he said there never was such an offer as a universal pension without a means test, that there could not be, and that it would not work. I call upon the government to get back to the essential soundness of the proposals that were made in 1945, namely, that our old age pension be made payable to all Canadians, regardless of any means test, on a universal basis, and without delay.

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LIB

Emmett Andrew McCusker

Liberal

Mr. E. A. McCusker (Regina City):

May I,

Mr. Speaker, join with those who have preceded me in offering congratulations to the mover and the seconder of the motion for the address, and also to the hon. member for Edmonton West (Mr. Prudham) on his promotion to the position of parliamentary assistant. A few days ago this house went into committee of supply on the Department of External Affairs. The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) gave us a report on the operation of his department, and a general review of the international situation. He referred to some of the most important problems explored on his recent trip and conference, and stressed the generally unsatisfactory and anxious position in which the peace-minded democracies find themselves today on account of the hostile attitude and uncertain intentions of the communist-dominated countries.

He was alternately criticized and praised by those who followed in the debate. The hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon), who is absent today, complains that the department does not keep the members of this house in general, and the committee on external affairs in particular, fully informed on the current situation or on its plans for the future. He complains that the committee was not allowed to call before it for questioning Mr. Davis who was our ambassador to China. As one who opposed calling Mr. Davis before that committee, I should like to point out that the usefulness of Mr. Davis as an ambassador would have ended after one session in a committee in which he might be subjected to questions and his statements made public. I should like to have listened, to his report on China; it probably would be most interesting; but I should like to see him continue in that service.

Those who are employed in positions such as the one occupied by Mr. Davis cannot be expected to report to anyone but the head of his department, or to the Prime Minister. I am afraid that we on that committee must content ourselves with the meagre information passed on by the department. When I say "meagre information", I do not accuse the department of withholding information to which we are entitled. We must realize that the department has certain information which it cannot divulge to a committee where it would be made public, and therefore we cannot expect them to do so.

I have listened carefully to, and studied, the speeches made on foreign affairs in this house since the opening of the session. While I congratulate all those who have spoken on the research they have done in the preparation of those speeches, I still maintain that the information contained in them is gleaned mainly from the many periodicals which fill our mail today, and is available to all our people. They cast no new light upon the problem, but tend to stress the personal fears and anxieties of those who have spoken. As far as I am concerned, the situation remains as it has been for the past few years, one of grave concern to which our Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the Secretary of State for External Affairs must give close attention; but the gravity of it must not be allowed to depress our people and develop in them an attitude, a complex of fear and futility. Because of this unfortunate international situation we are committed to large expenditures for the defence of democracy. Although the burden is heavy, I feel that we have the ability to carry it. We feel that within our resources we are

The Address-Mr. McCusker doing everything that we possibly can do. There then remains for us who are not fully occupied in this task a duty to develop our country so that it can support these evergrowing expenditures.

Let me now direct the attention of the house to the many important practical problems which require our immediate attention. The first is unemployment. We all know that in this country, in which we have a severe winter climate, we are bound to find seasonal unemployment. This year some employers listened to the talk about depression, and curtailed employment beyond what they were justified in doing. In addition, the layoff in shipping has added to the unemployment. In the province from which I come we always have winter unemployment. This year it is greater than normal, but when the spring season comes around, which will be soon, and the people are able to return to the land, and when the construction projects that are in view are started, I feel that labour will be fully employed, and that all this unemployment will be absorbed.

The condition in Vancouver was aggravated by a great number of people who each winter go from the prairies to Vancouver looking for a warmer winter climate, and who seek positions there in order to help pay expenses for the winter. They were disappointed in their quest. In fact, I am told that the conditions in Vancouver and Victoria were so bad this year, with snow and slush so deep on the streets, that the older inhabitants had to attach outboard motors to their wheel chairs in order to get around; and this of course added greatly to the traffic congestion.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Nonsense.

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LIB

Emmett Andrew McCusker

Liberal

Mr. McCusker:

There is not a member in this house who does not feel sorry for the unemployed and their families. I am sure we were all pleased with the rapidity with which the house came to their assistance by means of extension of the unemployment insurance benefits. I feel that the worker who is employed will not object to the additional premium of one cent per day, nor will the employer.

Those who contribute to that fund must have been happy to learn that it was substantial, safe and carefully administered. As the debate indicated, there are those who confuse unemployment insurance with plans to relieve unemployment. Surely there should be no confusion.

May I at this late date extend my congratulations to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Harris) on his promotion

The Address-Mr. McCusker to cabinet rank. I am sure he will attack the problem of immigration with vigour and determination.

The hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) informs me that yearly many boys and girls upon leaving high school in the maritime provinces have to leave home to seek employment in other parts of Canada and in the United States. The industries that formerly employed them there have gone. I feel that every effort should be made to induce the boys and girls to remain in Canada, and to assist them to remain. The minister should be given wide latitude in doing that. What is the use of bringing displaced persons from Europe and allowing our own educated boys and girls to leave the country?

To a great extent western Canada was first settled by teen-agers and they played a large and prominent part in developing the country. Mr. Isaac Pitblado, who was honoured the other day in Winnipeg, was one of those. He opened his law practice in Winnipeg at the age of nineteen. I believe the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) came to the prairies in his teens. He taught school there and assisted in developing the country. To him goes the honour of first advocating the franchise being extended to eighteen-year-olds. His ideas were considered too advanced at that time, but they bore fruit some time later; for the franchise has been extended to these people in Saskatchewan. I do not think it would do any harm if we extended it federally.

During the periods in which we were engaged in two wars Canada developed in wealth and national status with a rapidity that might not have been achieved in times of peace. It is true our sacrifices were great and our suffering considerable, but what can be achieved without sacrifice and suffering? Are we to allow the gains made in those years to slip away from us, to be wiped out, because we want security, wealth and comfort? I hope not. Today our purse is full. Never before have we enjoyed such prosperity. That prosperity will last just so long as we continue to develop our many resources with all our energy.

We have great deposits of iron ore in Canada. We have the Steep Rock mines in Ontario, and great deposits in Labrador. We have great deposits of coal in the maritimes. It is true there is no coal in close proximity to the Steep Rock mines, and that ore must go south. But need the ore from Labrador all go south to the smelters, and must our people follow it to obtain work? We have coal in the maritimes; we have the people to mine it. We have a steel industry there. Why not develop those two industries? A good

steel industry in the maritimes would support the entire economy of that part of the country with a population three times as large as it is today.

There is coal in Alberta. There is oil in abundance in that province, and in the Lloyd-minster area of Saskatchewan. Should we not develop that as quickly as possible? The Imperial Oil Company is building a pipe line, which will be completed to Regina in October of this year and on to Superior early next year. The oil from Superior will be taken down to Sarnia and Toronto by boat to be refined. Today Montreal receives its oil from South America. There is a pipe line from Portland to Montreal. I understand there is another pipe line to be built there. Why not build a pipe line from Parry Sound on the Georgian bay to Ottawa and on to Montreal and use the western oil? In the event of war does Montreal think or do we think that Montreal will have an uninterrupted oil supply? I think not. Because of the many submarines that Russia has today I think it will be considerably interfered with. Parry Sound is only 225 miles from Ottawa and 325 from Montreal. Why not build a pipe line now while we are at peace?

I should now like to direct the attention of the house to irrigation. In Alberta today there are approximately 175,000 acres under irrigation. There is a large beet industry there which employs a large number of people. Along with the beet industry there is a canning industry, because the beet crop must be rotated with garden crops and so garden crops are grown. In Canada we produce only 10 per cent of our sugar requirements. Here is an industry which we could develop quite easily. I was told by some of the men who were attending a beet growers meeting here in Ottawa recently that they are feeding

60,000 head of cattle and 125,000 sheep on the by-products of that industry in Alberta this winter. It is an industry that employs a considerable number of people.

The St. Mary river dam project is nearing completion. When it is completed it will bring under irrigation in the Lethbridge and Medicine Hat areas approximately 500,000 acres of land. I might almost say under cultivation, because in the dry years there is not much cultivation in that part of the country. The project at Red Deer will bring another half million acres under cultivation or irrigation. In addition it will supply 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity for sale a year. The greatest project of all is the one on the Saskatchewan river at Elbow. It will provide water to irrigate 650,000 acres of land. In addition to that it could produce yearly 435 million kilowatt hours of electricity. That is sufficient to supply one and a half times the needs of

the province at the present time. It will produce revenue sufficiently large to pay for the project itself in about 40 years. Yet I am amazed to find that in the agricultural estimates this year only $1 million appears for this project, half of what was there last year. I understand the difficulty is that no agreement has been made between the provinces and the federal government as to the proper allocation of costs of distributing the water after the dam is built.

I think hon. members to my left, the C. C. F. and the Social Credit groups, could do a great service to this country and to the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan by impressing upon their friends in the governments of those provinces the necessity of an early agreement in this matter.

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SC

William Duncan McKay Wylie

Social Credit

Mr. Wylie:

Especially the Liberal government.

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LIB

Emmett Andrew McCusker

Liberal

Mr. McCusker:

Wait a few more years and you will be able to talk to a Liberal government in Saskatchewan. I do not want to have to wait that long for this project to be proceeded with.

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SC

William Duncan McKay Wylie

Social Credit

Mr. Wylie:

You never know what you are talking about.

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LIB

Emmett Andrew McCusker

Liberal

Mr. McCusker:

I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying how pleased I am to see that the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) has a resolution on the order paper having to do with old age pensions. I am glad to know that he intends to place this matter before a committee where all views can be submitted and heard. I think that committee is the place to hear it, and that all hon. members will be glad to remove from this chamber much of the tiresome debate to which we have had to listen on that subject to date. Let us have those matters settled in committee.

Let me say to the hon. member who has just taken his seat that during the last campaign I said, and I have said it also from the floor of the house, that I was in favour of old age pensions without a means test, but on a contributory basis. That statement was quoted in all my literature. I repeated it when I was home this year, and it is a view, may I say, that meets with the approval of the majority of the people in Regina.

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March 6, 1950