Mr. Chairman, on numerous occasions reference has been made, in this house and elsewhere, to the proportion of taxes collected throughout this country by the federal government as compared with the proportion raised by provincial or municipal governments. A point which has been overlooked, however, has been that of the responsibilities of the federal government towards these provinces or municipalities.
For instance we need only point out the extraordinary expenditures which fall upon the federal government with regard to social security legislation as applied for the benefit of the people of this country, old age pensions, family allowances, blindness and disability allowances, and so on. Likewise overlooked are the amounts spent by the federal government in the municipalities concerned-as demonstrated by this proposed legislation-in the form of public works, defence production, military establishments, and so on.
Montreal being the metropolis of this country and I a resident and ratepayer of that city, I feel it is my duty to speak in recognition of what the federal government is doing for the metropolis of this country even if the various opposition parties apparently refuse to recognize the federal government's contribution to municipal affairs in the forms of grants and donations in all fields. To prove it, I only have to point out in passing what our government is offering to the universities of my city, its grants to technical schools and to hospitals; it is so much less that the municipality has to pay out.
Here now is a further wise government proposal which will be of great help to municipalities and particularly-in view of its large population-to the metropolis of the country, the city of Montreal.
I understand that federal government properties in Montreal would be assessed at some $30 million, which means that, taking into account the compensation which ought to be paid, the city would perhaps collect more than one million dollars a year, an amount which it has never received in past years. The action taken by the government deserves our commendation. When the opposition tells us that this should have been done earlier, my reply is that it is never too late to do the right thing. Moreover, for many years now, the government has always come up in time with the introduction of beneficial measures when they have become necessary. Therefore, this grant of one million dollars to the city
of Montreal should be a reason for us to commend the government for this generous attitude with regard to the municipalities, and we should more particularly point out the fact that the federal government has never attached any strings in respect of almost all its gifts and contributions ever paid either in the provincial or in the municipal field.
For instance the federal government does not say that the amount of one million dollars of which the city of Montreal is going to benefit should be spent in any particular way. Not at all. The federal government has great respect for municipal autonomy. All it does is to pay a generous- not to say liberal-contribution, as these two words are synonymous. We recognize that now may be the time for the federal government-without encroaching on the autonomy of cities and municipalities-to contribute on a greater scale, notwithstanding what it has done for them so far, to a solution of the problem created by the abnormal expansion of cities, more particularly of the larger ones, like Montreal.
When we speak about the growth of our great cities and about the extraordinary expansion of the provinces, we tend to forget that the central government is largely responsible for the progress now taking place in Canada, a progress which is felt in provincial and municipal budgets, in all our provinces.
Our cities and provinces have never enjoyed such a high level of revenue. In my opinion, it is the result of the progressive policy of the Liberal party, a policy which is strikingly exemplified by the bill now before the house.
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS TO EXTEND BENEFITS AND PROVIDE CHANGES IN ADMINISTRATION