November 7, 1951

LIB

Charles-Arthur Dumoulin Cannon

Liberal

Mr. Cannon:

Because price controls were on at that time. But they worked then. You could make them work then, in 1945.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. P. E. Wright (Melfort):

Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to follow the arguments of the hon. member who has just spoken, but I want to take the first opportunity to support the amendment to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) with regard to war veterans allowances. On October 26 I moved the adjournment of the house to discuss the urgent need for consideration, at this session, of the plight of war veterans in receipt of war veterans allowance, with particular reference to the inadequacy of the amounts they were receiving in the light of today's cost of living. At that time you, Mr. Speaker, suggested that this discussion could be carried on during the debate on the speech from the throne; and I am glad the hon. member for Acadia took advantage of the first opportunity to

move this amendment and to bring this situation directly to the attention of the house. I am sure every veteran member of this house will support the hon. member for Acadia in this amendment, and I am sure the people of Canada will support that amendment.

What are we doing in suggesting that our war veterans should have a larger pension at this time? We are simply saying that we believe these men are entitled to a fair share of the national production of this country. That is all we are doing. We are producing a great deal in the way of goods and services in this country. Last year the net national income was something over $14 billion. With a population of approximately 14 million people that means there is for distribution in this country a net income of over $1,000 per capita. Yet we restrict to a pension of $40 a month one group in this country who have done perhaps more than any other group to see that this national production is now available to us. We are doing that at a time when the cost of living has soared, as it has during the last three years, to a point where if the pension were to be adequate it could quite easily be not $50 a month, as is being asked by the veterans organizations, but rather $60 a month, if these people were to get just a reasonable share of our national income in proportion to the production we have in Canada today.

I cannot see how any hon. member can disagree with a motion like that. In 1948, when the pension committee met and our Pension Act was revised, we passed a supplement to the War Veterans Allowance Act providing for $10 a month. But that $10 a month required a second means test on top of the original means test under the War Veterans Allowance Act. In order to get that additional $10 a month supplemental pension a veteran must show that there is an emergency in the family, through ill health or some other cause; and that $10 a month supplement is paid only for a limited period of time. It seems to me that here is a group which we in Canada should surely be prepared to treat more fairly than we are treating them at the present time.

The veterans organizations in this country have been moderate in their presentations to the government with regard to what they believe the pensioners in this country should receive.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Will the hon. member permit a question? I am asking for information. I understood the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) to say-and I want to be corrected if I am wrong-that the income of

The Address-Mr. Wright anybody who is eligible for the old age pension will be subject to income tax and that the war veterans allowance recipient was eligible for $1,000 exemption. I understood him to say that.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

I do not see where that has anything to do with the argument I am making with respect to the war veterans being entitled to something more than $40 a month at the present time.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

He is entitled to $1,000 exemption.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

Under the old age security legislation, they can qualify for old age security and be paid also what remains of their war veterans allowance, or about $10 or $15.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Oh, no.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

They also are exempt as far as income tax is concerned, the same as any other citizen in this country. But the point I am making now is that the veterans organizations in this country, in their requests of this and other governments with respect to pensions and war veterans allowance, have been exceedingly moderate. Their request today is for $50 a month for a single man and $100 a month for a married man. That is a reasonable request. They do not want it next year. They want it now.

I have in my hand an editorial from The Legionary in which I find the following statement:

It is regrettable that the government did not see fit to have a parliamentary committee set up to deal with war veterans allowance during the current fall session so that the increase, whatever it may be, could have helped to tide the recipients over the coming winter months when expenses are heaviest. The government having announced its decision, however, the Legionary can only express the fervent hope, which it feels sure all ex-servicemen and women will share, that when the amount of the increase is determined, it will be sufficient to enable these gallant old defenders of Canada's freedom to spend their remaining years in reasonable comfort, free from the fear of want or outright poverty.

The veterans organizations have been reasonable. Yet this government now proposes to leave this matter in abeyance until next session, when they propose to set up the veterans affairs committee to deal with it. They say the payments can be made retroactive to January 1. Even if that committee is set up next year it cannot bring in findings and have legislation passed in this house until next June or July. In the meantime war veterans are in the position that they must live on $40 a month, or a total of $70.81 if the veteran is married and qualifies under the War Veterans Allowance Act pension. I ask hon. members how any two people

812

The Address-Mr. Wright in Canada can live today on $70.81, especially when the cost of rent, the cost of food and the cost of clothing are taken into consideration? Why, it is just ridiculous to think that any two persons could possibly live on that amount of money and have a reasonable standard of living.

We are not poor in Canada. As I said before, we have a great productive capacity in this country. All that the veterans organizations are asking for, all that this resolution is suggesting, is that out of our total production we should be prepared to set aside a reasonable amount to keep the people who made sacrifices for this country in reasonable comfort in the later years of their lives.

I do not want to go into the arguments that were brought out when the war veterans allowance was first introduced in this country, but at that time it was agreed that these men who had served overseas in an active theatre of war were entitled to consideration. Remember, this war veterans allowance is paid only to men who served in an active theatre of war. It is not paid to everyone who joined the army. It is paid only to those who made the sacrifices and took the risks in an active theatre of war. Surely, after these men took the risk, and since we have agreed that because of this risk, because of their service, their earning capacity has been reduced by ten years, we should be prepared to see that they get a reasonable allowance, one we can afford to pay but which is still below the average earning capacity and the average productive capacity of the Dominion of Canada. That is all the resolution asks for. It asks that these people be given a fair share out of our total production, a fair share of our national income so that they, like other groups in this country, may have a decent standard of living.

Personally I see no reason why the $40 a month which is payable under the Old Age Security Act should not be paid to our war veterans in addition to the war veterans allowance. So far as other groups in the country are concerned, our civil servants and other pensioners, the Old Age Security Act provides that they shall have the $40 a month in addition to their pensions. The only argument that can be advanced as to why this should not be paid to the war veterans is that they did not contribute to their pension.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Neither did the retired

judges.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre says "Neither did the retired judges." But the point is those men did contribute to that pension. In the opinion

of parliament when the War Veterans Allowance Act was first passed, they contributed in that they shortened their lives by ten years as a result of their service to this country. If that is not a contribution then I do not know the meaning of the word when applied to a pension or any other scheme. Certainly these people contributed to their pension, and they should receive the old age pension, as other groups in the country are receiving it, in addition to the war veterans allowance. If they were to receive that it would not be necessary to set up a veterans affairs committee in this house; it would not be necessary to point out, as we find today, the inequities and inequalities that exist in relating the war veterans allowance to the Old Age Security Act and the old age pension acts which may be passed by the various provinces to take care of those between 65 and 69 years of age. Any hon. member who tries to calculate the position of veterans in relation to the various acts which may be passed by the provinces will find himself in this position. He will need to consult a lawyer. As a matter of fact we do not know what the relationship will be because a great many of the provinces have not yet passed acts relating to the groups from 65 to 69 years of age. Each province will no doubt have a different act, and the veterans in the different provinces will find themselves under entirely different conditions. In some provinces it may pay the veteran to transfer to the Old Age Security Act and get $40 a month, or it may pay him to transfer to the old age pension under the provincial acts. In that case it would relieve the government of 50 per cent of their responsibility with regard to the war veteran, and transfer that 50 per cent to the provincial governments. I do not think many of the provincial governments are in a financial position to accept that added responsibility. I am sure some of the maritime and western provinces are not in a position to accept that additional financial burden. When this amendment to the amendment comes to a vote I hope every hon. member will vote for it so that something may be done not next year but this year to relieve the plight of those receiving war veterans allowances.

I should like to say a word with regard to the Pension Act. It is indicated by the government that they intend to bring in some legislation at this session which will increase the rate of pension paid under this act. We have had no indication yet from the government as to what the increase will be. The veterans organizations have asked for an increase of 33J per cent. I think that increase is moderate. As a matter of fact they are simply asking for an increase in the pension to the disabled veterans in the amount of the

Increase in the cost of living since the last amendment of the act in 1948. When the Pension Act was first brought into effect in Canada the basic pension was set on the earnings of the unskilled labourer in this country. That is the lowest wage rate paid. That was the basis on which our Pension Act was established. Therefore in asking for an increase of 33J per cent, and that the basic pension be brought up to equal the increase in the cost of living the veterans organizations of this country are not asking for something unreasonable. They could easily have asked that the basis of the pension be changed. It is not fair to base a pension to our returned men on the wages of an unskilled labourer. I think they would be perfectly justified in arguing that we should now sit down and discuss the whole matter of the basis on which our Pension Act has been established in this country. There are not as many unskilled labourers in Canada today as there were back in the days when the Pension Act was instituted. More of our workers are becoming skilled labourers, and the wages of skilled labourers are much greater than they were back in the 1920's when the Pension Act was enacted. They would have been perfectly justified, I say, in placing before this government a request that the basis of our Pension Act should be changed and the pension itself greatly increased. But they have asked only for 33J per cent, and I hope when the government brings down its legislation in this matter it will provide for 33J per cent. I can assure them that if it does not, they will hear about it, not only from veteran organizations across the country but from many other organizations. It is a reasonable request, and one which should be granted without quibbling.

Therefore I would say, in relation to the amendment, that we should give it our wholehearted support. We should endeavour to see that legislation is brought down at this session to increase the war veterans allowance, to at least meet the request of the Canadian Legion in this matter.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Would the hon. member mind reading it again?

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

The amendment moved by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) was this:

That the amendment be amended by adding thereto the following words:

"Furthermore we regret that Your Excellency's advisers have failed to compensate the recipients of war veterans allowance for the increase in the cost of living by an appropriate increase in the amount of the allowance."

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LIB

James Neilson Corry

Liberal

Mr. J. N. Corry (Perth):

Mr. Speaker,

upon rising to speak at this time I wish first to express, on behalf of the people of my

The Address-Mr. Corry constituency, a note of gratification and appreciation of the visit of Their Royal Highnesses, The Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. I regret that my constituency was not honoured by the personal appearance of Their Royal Highnesses, but we share the delight which has been expressed by many hon. members because of the excellent reception and the splendid visit the people of Canada have enjoyed. It is particularly significant that the tour was undertaken at this time, in the light of the condition of health of His Majesty. We join in the fervent prayer and earnest hope that he will soon be restored to perfect health.

With other hon. members I wish to join in congratulating the mover of the address in reply, the hon. member for Beauhamois (Mr. Cauchon). I was indebted to the translation of his speech for my knowledge of what is contained therein. I am sure, judging from the smaller portion of his remarks delivered in the English language, that he is as eloquent in that language as in his native tongue. The hon. member for Yukon-Mackenzie River (Mr. Simmons), to whom I also extend congratulations, gave us a thrilling word picture of the great northern constituency he represents, that great section of our country which possesses untold resources not yet developed. Associated with him in emphasizing the possibilities of that vast domain was the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Murray). His speech was calculated to arouse the pioneer spirit which, to a great extent, has lain dormant in us in recent years. Both these speeches serve to emphasize the great need for more population in Canada. In this connection my attention was drawn a few weeks ago to a statement made by a distinguished American who is serving as a member of a royal commission in Canada. He is reported to have said that Canada must become one continuous home, that neighbours must be able to shake hands with each other all across the country.

All hon. members realize that life in the outposts of the nation is rigorous. It is no place for those who seek a life of ease and luxury. It is a challenge to those who are strong and resourceful. Our pioneer forefathers possessed that spirit, and to them we are indebted for the land in which we live. Their resourcefulness and spirit of determination overcame obstacles which those made of weaker stuff would have found it impossible to surmount.

To bring about the great expansion so necessary in our nation we are obliged to depend not only upon people in our own land, but upon those from other countries. The

The Address-Mr. Corry Department of Citizenship and Immigration is to be commended for its efforts along that line. There are people in other lands who are anxious to make a new start in a new land, but under different conditions; and we must assist them to do so. It is important that they leave behind them the prejudices and hatreds of their native lands and start anew. I regret that there is a tendency on the part of some people who come to our shores to gravitate to those centres where they may establish communities, where they may speak their own language and follow the customs they followed in their native lands. This, I believe, is to be deplored. Most of these people are capable of becoming good Canadians, and every possible opportunity ought to be given them to learn the language and acquaint themselves with the customs of our country. Many of these people from Europe come as agriculturists; but it is regrettable that a number of them spend only a short time on the farms. They are lured by prospects of higher wages and shorter working hours in the cities. Apparently industry is able to engage them; but their departure from the farms is unfortunate. I believe the Department of Citizenship and Immigration ought to be very firm, and have them complete their contracts. I think they are obliged to stay a year. My personal view is that this term ought to be extended, and that they ought to be required to put in more than one year of service on the farm.

Like many other hon. members I have been disappointed in the number of immigrants coming from Great Britain. I believe there are thousands of people over there who would gladly come to Canada, were it possible for them to bring their financial resources, or at least a part of those resources, with them. I am hopeful that the new government in Britain will be more sympathetic and will permit those people to take more of their capital with them. I believe this government ought to give more consideration to advancing financial help to prospective citizens, against the security of their holdings in Britain. Britain has suffered tremendous loss in manpower and wealth through the ravages of two world wars. She lost a generation which would have guided the nation in these critical times. Loss of her overseas possessions and of domestic wealth is being keenly felt at the present time. In spite of all, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish still possess the determination and strength of character which we consider essential in our land.

The constituency I have the honour to represent lies in the great fertile section of western Ontario. It produces a large volume

of dairy products, bacon, hog products, poultry products and beef. It practises a livestock economy, sound in structure and permanent in nature. I regret that there has been a decline in the production of some of these products, particularly those originating on the dairy farms. Because of the disappointing returns for cheese and cream a year ago, many farmers have altered their farming operations and abandoned their efforts along that line. They are now turning to other means of operating their farms. Some have turned to -the production of beef cattle; some have gone into other cash crops. The nature of our soil is such that a livestock economy is sounder than any other, and I think every effort ought to be made to preserve it.

In the last few days I have received a great number of cards from dairy producers in my riding urging that the dairy farmer be protected against the importation of cheap vegetable oils used in the manufacture of imitation dairy products. It may be difficult for some hon. members to understand why objection should be taken to the importation of the products of tropical or semi-tropical lands which are used in the manufacture of wholesale foods. Farmers as a class are very intelligent people. They know that many of the things which enter into the cost of production on the farm -come into this country under substantial tariffs. They know also that the producers of cheap vegetable oils in semi-tropical and tropical countries provide a market for only a small part of our natural or manufactured products. They know also that the prices of dairy products used in computing the cost of living are quite low. Wages and salaries of the purchasers have risen to a much greater extent than have the prices of dairy products. In this connection I was interested in reading in the Ottawa Journal of Saturday, October 27, an account of an address given by Mr. W. Frank Jones, president of the Borden Company, to the Ontario agricultural college alumni association on October 26. This reads in part:

"Of the 13 major dairying countries of the world, Canada is the only country which showed an overall decline in milk production between the year 1948 and 1950," stated Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones attributed the serious decline in the dairy industry to "the relatively higher returns from other types of farming such as beef cattle, grains, hogs, poultry, and others; the relatively onerous nature of dairying making it increasingly difficult to obtain or retain the farm labour required; the competitive impact of substitutes for dairy products manufactured from imported vegetable oils, and, contrary to the general impression among hard pressed consumers, the relatively low consumer prices for dairy products."

Mr. Jones said that "the number of milk cows on Canadian farms as at June 1, 1951, reached the lowest point in 20 years-this in face of a human population increase of 2J million in the past eight years alone."

"The production of milk has declined well over a billion pounds since the end of the war and it is expected that, despite the most favourable farming conditions this year, 1951 production will be the lowest since 1949."

"The production of milk per capita has declined from 1,509 pounds in 1942 to less than 1,200 pounds estimated for this year."

"The annual production of butter has declined more than 49 million pounds during the past three years alone. This is the lowest production on record in 20 years; the production of cheese, at one time our biggest export commodity, has dropped from 189 million pounds in 1945 to less than 100 million this year; the production of fluid milk has not been sufficient to meet the year-round requirements of a large number of city markets, necessitating the reconstitution of milk from manufactured products. This shortage of fluid milk will become progressively worse unless the over-all decline is halted."

He stated that the average price of milk in Canada had gone up only 78 per cent as compared with an increase in the over-all food index of 159 per cent.

In view of that statement by an expert in dairy matters it is not surprising that those who are engaged in dairy production are gravely concerned. For over half a century dairying has been the foundation of rural prosperity, and anything which imperils its future is of great concern not only to farmers but to the urban dwellers who are dependent to a great extent upon the well-being of agriculture.

Another reason for the decline in the production of milk products is the shortage and uncertainty of farm labour. I have already mentioned the fact that many of those who come to Canada stay on the farms only a short time, leaving farm employment for shorter working hours and higher wages in industry. Another factor which is contributing to the decline in the production on livestock farms is the fact that farmers as a class are becoming aged and there are not enough young men in position to step into their places. I have stated already some of the reasons why young men are attracted away from the farm. The prospect of high wages, shorter working hours, holidays with pay and free week ends have been attractive, but another reason is the greatly increased cost of getting a start on a farm. Mechanization has been accepted and is rapidly replacing the methods formerly used. It is efficient, but it has added substantially to the amount required by a young man to make a start. I was interested in the observations of the hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska (Mr. Boisvert), and I am of the opinion that some consideration ought to be given to his suggestions. By that I mean there should be a reduction in the rate of interest on money advanced to give farmers a start. In spite of the great industrial development which has taken place in the

The Address-Mr. Corry last decade I am still convinced that agriculture is the basic industry in our country and as such is entitled to earnest consideration.

A week ago Saturday it was my privilege to go to Camp Borden with other hon. members at the invitation of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton). It was a most interesting tour. In the short time we were able to spend there we were shown a great deal. What impressed me more than anything else was the efficient manner in which the men are being trained. Not only are they being trained to be capable and efficient soldiers and in the use of mechanical equipment; they are also learning trades which will be of value to them when they return to civilian life. I was made keenly aware of the great change that has taken place in training methods since the days of world war I.

It was announced that this special session would be called to deal with old age security, among other things. It was my privilege to serve as a member of that committee, the first I ever had the privilege of serving on, and I want to express my pleasure at having had that privilege. I can assure other members of the house that every member of that committee devoted a great deal of time and thought to the question. I should also like to pay tribute to those individuals and organizations who, by way of brief or personal presentation, gave us their views. I believe the legislation before the house will meet the approval of most of the people of this nation. Thoughts have been expressed that the provision of old age security on the scale envisaged will contribute to a lack of thrift. I have always held the opposite opinion. I believe that as an addition to the savings of a lifetime it will be greatly appreciated, and will contribute to more thriftiness on the part of our older citizens. I am sure they will not forsake the habit of thrift which they have practised for many years.

I was delighted to hear the announcement of the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Lapointe) that the government intends to increase the basic rate of disability pension. In company with many other members of the house I feel sure that announcement will be received with approval.

I wish to draw the attention of the house to one other matter having to do with the urban sections of my constituency. We have one city and some small towns which are capable of engaging in the production of defence materials. A great deal has been said in the house about the merits of decentralization, and with those statements I agree. Whether our future be peaceful or otherwise,

Business of the House I feel it is in the interests of the country that we decentralize industry to as great an extent as possible. I hope the Department of Defence Production, if it is within its power, will use its influence to allot contracts for defence materials to as many as possible of the smaller places throughout the country.

On motion of Mr. Courtemanche 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):

Tomorrow we will resume the debate on Bill No. 13, an act to provide for old age security. Then we will

take up the following resolutions: That in the name of the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys concerning the Canada Lands Surveys Act; the resolution in the name of the Secretary of State for External Affairs concerning the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; the resolution in the name of the Minister of Labour concerning government annuities. If we have time, we will also take up the resolution in the name of the Minister of Agriculture with respect to an agricultural products board.

At 6.15 p.m. the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to the order of the house passed on November 2, 1951.

Thursday, November 8, 1951

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November 7, 1951