Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to refer very briefly to the federal-provincial conference. At the October meeting it was agreed that this conference would resume in committee at a time to be fixed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the premiers of the provinces. In reply to my letter of January last outlining the fiscal proposals put forward by the federal government, some of the provincial premiers did suggest another meeting.
In my letter of February 18, 1956, I said:
Since our federal responsibilities and commitments are now so heavy that we would not be warranted in making any increase in the basic offer we made in January, it may be that the provincial governments generally would not feel that there would be any advantage to be derived from another meeting to discuss fiscal relations.
The replies to my letter indicated, however, that a further meeting in committee was desired.
The conference resumed Friday morning, March 9, and adjourned at five o'clock that day. Although the meeting was, as had been agreed, in camera, it was agreed at the beginning that each delegation could make public any statement it wished to make during the meeting. Some of these statements have been made public and several provincial representatives have made additional comments to the press. I will not endeavour to add to what has appeared in the press, or comment on the substance of the matter before the budget debate. I should like, however, to table the statement made by the federal Minister of Finance at the conference and also a statistical table distributed to the provincial premiers which shows an estimate of how the federal proposals would operate in the fiscal year 1957-58. It should be noted that these figures are illustrative only and that they are based on an assumed increase of 5 per cent per annum over the 1955 levels in the yields of standard taxes and the insurance premium tax.
Perhaps hon. members would wish to have the statement of the Minister of Finance and
the statistical table printed as an appendix to Hansard, as was done with the other documents relating to this matter.