May 11, 1953

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

My hon. friend never has the patience to wait. I never interrupted him. My hon. friend is one of those who never want any interruption while he is speaking, but when the slightest indentation is made in his argument he pursues a policy of interrupting all the time. 1 should like him to listen to my argument, even if he does not agree with it. My hon. friend was one of those who proposed that we should have a scheme of contributory old age pensions. I would have hoped that, in the dying days of this session, he would have reminded us and the country that, under the sponsorship of this government, Canada now has the most generous old age security system in the world. I would have hoped that he would have reminded us that a parliamentary committee, representing all parties, had recommended that there be a pension of $40 without a means test, based in part on the contributory principle.

Old age security is now provided in this country, not by way of complete payments out of the consolidated fund, but as a result of contributions made by the federal government and also as a result of contributions which every old age pensioner himself now makes by way of an old age security tax. What the hon. member has failed to indicate in the motion, and in what he said this morning, is that if we did what he suggests now we would have, if we are going to be logical, an additional tax burden on the old age pensioners of Canada. We are now committed, and I think rightly so, to a system of contributory payments, in part, towards our old age security fund; that is something my hon. friend has not indicated. What he has failed to point out is that, in this very parliament, within the last two years I had the pleasure of bringing in, as a result of government policy and as a result of this parliamentary committee-

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OLD AGE AND BLIND PERSONS-REQUEST FOR INCREASE IN PENSION PAYMENTS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Would the hon. member permit a point of privilege? The minister is saying that I made no reference to that fact this morning, but I certainly did.

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?

Peter Francis Martin

Mr. Marlin:

That is not a point of privilege; that is argument.

Old Age and Blind Pensions

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

But the minister is making a misstatement. The only difference is that I said it was to the credit of this 21st parliament, and the minister is trying to take the credit for the government.

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?

Peter Francis Martin

Mr. Marlin:

If the hon. member said that, I am glad he has interposed now to reaffirm what I thought he had not said. He is now affirming what I am going to say, that within two years this government, through this parliament and the parliamentary committee, brought in an old age security system based on the contributory principle, that can stand comparison with any, in fact, it is more generous than the old age security system of any other country in the world.

This parliament, and this government, was paying old age pensions along with the provinces to about 300,000 people two years ago. What are the facts now? The facts are that, as a result of the old age security legislation recently introduced to provide pensions without a means test, not 300,000 people but 686,127 people of 70 years and over are receiving pensions at the monthly cost of about $27 million, representing a total federal expenditure of $334,916,000 a year. A year and a half ago we were paying old age pensions, on federal account, of some $100 million. The federal government, without any assistance whatever now from the provinces, together with the contributions made by old age security pensioners themselves, is now paying three and one half times what we paid formerly to our aged citizens.

The hon. member speaks as though there was callousness on our part towards these people. He forgot to point out also that 87,000 people are now receiving old age assistance at a monthly cost of over $1-6 million, or a total annual cost of $22 million, out of the national exchequer, apart altogether from the provincial contributions. He also forgot to point out the improvement in the allowance for the blind, and the increases over the years. In fact, there are over 6,000 blind persons now receiving, as a result of the Old Age Security Act, that assistance free of the means test. The hon. member failed to mention that, since this legislation was introduced, we have relieved the provinces of an $18 million obligation to the old age pensioner^. The provinces have saved $18 million a year as a result of the assumption by the federal government of responsibility for those 70 and over. As a result of that saving two provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, are providing supplementary payments to their old age pensioners. As a result of that saving two provinces, Ontario

5114 HOUSE OF

Old Age and Blind Pensions and Alberta, are providing disability pensions.

My hon. friend never for one minute suggests that because of these savings, if there is the need that he indicates-I am not denying it in many instances-there may be an obligation on the part of the provincial governments. My hon. friend seeks to give the impression-perhaps he has to do that particularly now-that he alone is interested in trying to help those who need assistance.

I will not deny that my hon. friend is a hardworking member; I will not deny that he is an intelligent member; but I will say to him that by his constant emphasis, without regard for what the government of the country generally is doing, in my judgment he does more harm to this cause than good.

I know that my hon. friend in his zeal- often misguided-fails to take that into account when he makes proposals which in their very nature he knows oftentimes are impossible, and if carried out would do more harm to the development of an all-round social security program than he realizes. If I could give him any advice-and I know he will not take it

I would suggest to him that he display the same sense of responsibility in respect of these matters that he does in connection with political eventualities of the next few months.

My final word is this. These matters are always being studied. Certainly they will be studied, as they always are, by a government that was responsible for old age pensions. It was this party that brought in old age pensions in 1926.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

When they were forced to.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

It was this party that brought in the increases in the old age pensions; it was this party that increased the amount from $20 to $40.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Under pressure from us.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

My hon. friend says that it was as the result of pressure. I am not going to deny that hon. gentlemen opposite have periodically made suggestions. Good suggestions come even from the opposition, but it was this government that brought them into being, and oftentimes was criticized for doing it. It was this government also that brought in family allowances without any encouragement whatsoever from hon. gentlemen opposite.

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Subtopic:   OLD AGE AND BLIND PERSONS-REQUEST FOR INCREASE IN PENSION PAYMENTS
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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 nonsense.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

It was this government, without any suggestion from the other side, that brought in family allowances. So I suggest that at a time-

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OLD AGE AND BLIND PERSONS-REQUEST FOR INCREASE IN PENSION PAYMENTS
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Keep a straight face if you can.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

-when we are-

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

You people put horses on the payroll without any suggestion.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

I suggest that at a time when we are coming to the end of our sessional labours, at a time when this country has burdened its people to such an extent, because of the obligations of preserving decency and freedom in the world, at a time when we have increased our social security benefits to a level never before exceeded- we are now spending over $1J billion on health and social welfare in this country- at a time when we have had to increase our defences, no one can now responsibly rise in his place in this house and say that this parliament has not done its duty by all classes of the people of Canada.

Mr. J. W. Nose worthy (York South): I had

not intended to speak at all on this amendment-

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnoit:

Sit down.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

-until I listened to the verbal quibbling of the Minister of National Health and Welfare. In my opinion his whole speech is simply a series of verbal quibblings. I can understand his righteous indignation at the government being put on the spot in the dying days of the session. I am surprised to hear the Minister of National Health and Welfare put himself on record at this stage of the life of parliament as being opposed to increasing pensions to our older citizens and to our blind pensioners.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order-

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

No interruptions.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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May 11, 1953