May 8, 1953

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

I am aware of the great work of this organization, and I have explained to them that I would hope they could supplement some of their required financing by getting more assistance from the provinces than they have. We are carrying on discussions with the health league along those lines.

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Item agreed to. Welfare branch- 2S0. Welfare branch administration, $32,785. Supply-Health and Welfare


CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

I am sorry the hour is so late and that we are so near the end of the session that it is not possible to deal with some matters as fully and as adequately as they should be dealt with. Therefore at this stage of the game I shall abbreviate my remarks with respect to this whole question of social security, which it is proper to discuss under the welfare branch of the Department of National Health and Welfare.

There are several items here, including family allowances, old age security, old age assistance, blindness allowances and the like. I wish to say as briefly and as forcibly as I can that we still have a long way to go in this country in the field of old age security. I do not wish to detract one iota from the credit due to this 21st parliament for having been the parliament which got rid of the means test in connection with the old age pension, at least for those 70 years of age and over. The minister and others will recall that in 1950, when the special committee on old age security reported its recommendation that that step be taken, together with certain other steps, I indicated that my feeling at that stage was that nothing should be done to jeopardize getting that new plan into operation. But I indicated also that as soon as that plan was in operation I for one would bring to the attention of the government the need for further steps that should be taken.

The fact that we must face is that it is four years since there has been any increase in the amount of the old age pension. It is still only $40 a month. I wish to draw to the attention of the government the urgent need for increasing the amount of the old age pension, both in the 70 years and over bracket where it is known as old age security and is free from the means test and between 65 and 69 years where it is known as old age assistance and up to the present is subject to the means test.

I know that if we get into an argument on this matter we will have the same sort of questions and comments that were raised in respect to that other aspect of social security, a health insurance program, about which we were talking earlier. Bearing in mind your suggestion, Mr. Chairman, that I have given the answers to these questions already, I will content myself with saying that we have dealt with this question of the cost of an adequate old age security time and time again. I will just deal with one aspect of it. At the present time we are devoting about 1 [DOT] 4 per cent of our gross national income to our senior citizens 70 years of age and over who constitute about 5 per cent of our population. I submit that

5032 HOUSE OF

Supply-Health and Welfare that is not good enough. In my view we should be increasing the old age pension to a figure of not less than $60 per month to make it commensurate with today's cost of living.

Hon. members may moan and groan if they wish, but I am satisfied that we can afford it. Indeed I am satisfied that we cannot afford not to go further in establishing a social security program that is adequate and that measures up to what our people deserve and what our economy can afford. As hon. members know from long experience, I could speak at length on this matter but I shall not do so at this time. I insist that this parliament, in spite of all the credit that is coming to it for what it has done in getting rid of the means test, has not finished the job. I regret very much that it appears that this government is prepared to go to the country this summer without increasing the old age pension to at least $60 per month. Indeed, I feel that the means test should be removed at 65 years, and I hope that even yet these steps will be taken before dissolution. When we get down to the question of blindness allowances I shall have something more to say.

These are not requests for something for nothing; these are not requests along the lines that were expressed a moment ago by an hon. member to my right; they are simply requests for social justice, for recognition of the fact that we live in the kind of world where we work together, where we produce things together and that it is only fair that the people who produce the nation's wealth should get back that wealth in an adequate standard of living during their working years and in proper old age security when the time for retirement comes.

I shall leave it at that for now. I strongly urge an increase in the old age pension in both brackets to not less than $60 a month.

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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

Mr. Chairman, I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the hon. member, and I believe he made a good sales talk. But the thing that always worries me when I hear talks like that, even though I agree with them and even though I would like to advocate these things, is where the money is to come from. I am not going to go further than that, because after all this is an election year and far be it from me to say that we cannot find it.

I really wanted to speak about something a little different, the payments made to orphanages. I understand that under present regulations those in charge of orphanages are not entitled to receive family allowances for the orphans under their charge. There is

some kind of weird regulation about which I am not quite clear-

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

Would my hon. friend care to discuss that on the family allowances item?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

I thought it was the same item.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

There is the old age security item, the family allowances item and so on.

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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

We can take it up tomorrow. I repeat that I agree entirely with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, but I just wonder when we talk about the payment of money where it is going to come from.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Out of the wealth that Canada produces.

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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

Fine. I would like to advocate a pension for every hon. member of this house if I could. But I do wonder where the money is going to come from. I just ask hon. members when they deal with these great payments that we believe in and to which we think the people of Canada are entitled: Where is the money going to

come from?

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Item agreed to. 282. Administration of the old age assistance and blind persons allowances acts, $108,893.


CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

What consideration has the minister given to the representations which the government has received from organizations of blind persons asking for an increase in the amount of the blindness allowance? They have asked also for the removal of the means test from the blindness allowance.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

My hon. friend knows, of course, that we have provided through old age security for a considerable portion of the blind population of the country in terms of the elimination of the means test. The result would be that only about 5,000 blind pensioners would be involved. The matter is one that does not come entirely within the full competence of this government; it is a matter for the provincial governments as well. Representations are being made to them, and when we get their views we will be in position to give further consideration to the matter.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

When the minister says that only a certain number are involved, is he limiting that to those 70 years and over?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

Seventy years and over and those who get blindness allowances.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

That is, from 21 years up the number of people who would be affected is only about 4,000.

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?

Murdo William Martin

Mr. Marlin:

In any event the point is that it is necessary to have consultation with the provinces.

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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 just say this to the minister-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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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:

May I just say this-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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May 8, 1953