April 5, 1957

PC

Carl Olof Nickle

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nickle:

I think the minister is quite aware, as are other members of this house, that donations to any charitable organization cost the taxpayer money and involve to some extent a loss in revenue to the government.

However, my point is this. As indicated by such recent federal actions as the setting up of the Canada Council, our grants to universities and the increase in various welfare payments, the government of Canada recognizes the fact that there is a need which must be met either by private capital or by government capital, the capital of all the

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

No, I am not prepared to do that, for the reasons I have given. There are perfectly acceptable reasons why corporations or individuals should feel that they might contribute to charitable organizations which will do a great deal of good work and in particular, as my hon. friend has mentioned, for scholarships and the kind of investment that returns money in the long run. On the other hand, these corporations and individuals are, I think, obliged to contribute to the cost of government, the cost of maintaining essential services here, including our cost of defence and indeed our cost of charitable donations in the sense of the exemptions that we now grant in particular cases. It may well be that these persons or corporations would feel that they were doing more for the people of Canada by these donations than they would be doing by paying the money in to the revenues of the federal government. However, that would be a matter of opinion.

All I can say is that the amount of tax reduction we gave this year, as of recent date on tea and coffee, was about the amount of $10 million we have spoken of here this morning. If there were $10 million more to be used by way of tax reductions one would wonder whether it ought to come in a further reduction of sales tax on an item that is in common use by the public, or whether it would be better to allow the tax reduction for the particular charitable purposes my hon. friend has in mind.

I only say that as at present advised I think we ought not to extend this exemption. Indeed I think we ought to look forward to a time when the government will be spending more on these things itself. There is a great increase in the amount being spent this coming year by the government on projects which have a long-term value, such as the Canada Council and additional sums in the estimates for research and the matter of scholarships also. Whether or not this is going to be another case of finding that when the government invades a field private donors leave it, I do not know. But certainly the need is there, and between us we ought to be able to meet it somehow. Nevertheless I feel that for the moment we cannot go beyond what we have done.

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PC

Carl Olof Nickle

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nickle:

I should like to make one further comment. Under an amendment to the succession duty act which we shall be considering later today the government is going a further step along the way of encouraging Canadians to turn over a portion of their estates to charitable causes in Canada, by giving some relief from succession duties on the amounts which are contributed to charities on the death of the owner of the estate.

By making further concessions by way of reduction in succession duties it seems to me we encourage Canadians to give up part of their estates or all of their estates to charity on their death. Why not go one step further and recognize that it is better to encourage Canadians during their lifetime to give more liberally to charitable organizations and to educational causes in Canada? If we are prepared to give up some federal government revenue derived from succession duties by making concessions in the succession duty act-in other words, if we are willing to give Canadians concessions if they are prepared to give parts of their estates to charities on their death-why should we not encourage them to do the same thing during their lifetime by accepting the recommendation I have just made?

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall clause 7 carry?

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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 wish to say something about subparagraph 2 of clause 7 along the lines of the discussion yesterday. This is the subparagraph that has to do with the allowance for the expense of a full-time attendant for a person who is necessarily confined by reason of illness, injury or affliction to a bed or wheel chair.

As the minister knows, and as all hon. members know, we have discussed this on previous occasions, as the result of a ruling of the Exchequer Court of Canada denying a taxpayer the right to claim deductibility because his wife was confined by reason of illness, injury or affliction for most of the time to a bed, but part of the time to a chair that did not happen to be a wheel chair.

I have given further thought to the matter since the minister spoke on it yesterday, and it does seem to me he should consider changing the word "wheel" to the word "invalid". I draw his attention to the fact that he does not narrow the definition of "bed". He does not say it has to be a particular kind of bed. He does not rule out a person who might be confined to a couch. Anything that is a bed meets the condition of the subclause. Yet when it comes to the chair he insists on a wheel chair.

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I appreciate the point he made yesterday that one does not want to open up this clause too widely, but surely the point is not the construction of the bed or the chair to which a person is confined; surely the point is that the person is a permanent invalid, is permanently ill, or at least in that condition for a full 12-months period. I plead with the minister once again to consider changing the words "wheel chair" to "invalid chair". We suggested yesterday that it might read just a bed or chair. The minister thinks that goes too far. Surely my suggestion that it should read "invalid chair" or "invalid's chair" is reasonable.

I have considered again the wording of the judgment which was handed down in the case to which reference has been made, and it is clear that the judge himself was surprised that the wording was there. He admitted he had to stick to the strict letter of the law in making his decision. It does seem to me that the judge was inviting parliament to be sensible on this point and change this wording from "wheel chair" to something that would take care of the kind of case which was recently considered by the Exchequer Court of Canada.

Has the minister given further consideration to this matter since yesterday, and is he now prepared to respond to the suggestion of the judge that parliament should be sensible on this point?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Yes, Mr. Chairman, I have given consideration to it and I am not prepared to make a recommendation because, as I understand the evidence in this particular case, while the comments the judge made with respect to "wheel chair" were made no doubt for the purpose of drawing attention to what might appear to be an oddity in the law, the evidence before the judge was that the lady was outside the house. That might well have been the reason she should not get the benefit of this particular deduction; that she went for drives, and that while he was commenting on her sitting in a rocking chair, he was drawing attention to that phase of the case. Whether or not he rested the judgment on that alone and ignored the other evidence I do not know, but I am told that the woman in the particular case was not confined to her bed or to the chair; she was outside the house during the time.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, surely the minister is now going beyond the problem that confronts parliament. I quite agree that if a person claims deduction and does not meet the conditions of that deduction, the department in the first instance and the income tax appeal board and the Exchequer

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Court of Canada can govern themselves accordingly. Surely we have an obligation to make sure that the definition in the act is a sensible one.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I agree with that, and I can quite understand that someone might feel that this additional advantage ought to be granted to anyone who is confined to a house by reason of illness. But if you are going to make it go that far-

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

And the requirement of a full-time attendant.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

And the requirement of a fulltime attendant-we have never thought that we ought to go that far. When this amendment was introduced not so long ago it was on the plea of a great many hon. members that we ought to consider the extreme cases, not the ordinary illnesses but the extreme cases. And the extremity determined was if you were confined to a wheel chair or to your bed for a period of 12 months.

As I said yesterday, one might make the remark that that is being too extreme; that it ought to be six months, or less than that. I am not prepared at this moment, until I am far better acquainted with the kinds of cases on which claims are made and granted, to extend the advantage, recognizing as I do that it does seem a little strange that we would not put in any type of chair. The wheel chair was put in for a particular purpose. It defined right away a great many people who could take advantage of this as being persons who were confined to wheel chairs.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

May I ask the minister this question. Surely in what he said earlier he was not objecting to persons who are permanent invalids, confined for most of the time to their beds and their homes, being taken for a ride once in a while?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Well, this is just the kind of remark I would expect from my hon. friend when he-

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

It is the minister's remark I am commenting on.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

My remark was that one does not object to sick people getting out in an effort to get well, or even to spending some pleasant hours outside, but the purpose of the original advantage was to cover the person who is confined, not one who is out. Now, I am not going to suggest that because a doctor finds that his patient in 11 months has progressed so well that fresh air and a new interest in life would be of advantage should say to this person, "No, you stay in bed for another 24 days and you will qualify for the tax deduction and then I will let you out." But these are the kinds of things you

TMr. Knowles.]

ought to have in mind when you make your laws, and the very reason I have said it does not take on a large but a clearly defined group, before you move on to another one.

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PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (York West):

Mr. Chairman, I am trying to cut through some of the arguments I have heard on both sides now on this particular question, and it seems to me that the minister and his department are fully protected by the restricting nature of the other provisions in the same subclause. It refers to "full-time care in a nursing home of the taxpayer, his spouse or any such dependent". Then it says, "throughout the whole of a 12-month period". Surely these first two requirements pretty well take away any possibility of persons attempting to take advantage of any small loophole in the rest of this Clause.

I read the case in question, Mr. Chairman. I think the judge very definitely did point out this particular feature, perhaps not as a deciding issue in connection with the case but as a very definite warning that conflict was going to arise in the future over this very thing. As I read the clause now I can see someone who, say, is well enough to be lifted from a bed and placed in a wheel chair, otherwise complying with all the other requirements, and taken out along the street in a wheel chair in the sun, or whatever is necessary or whatever can be done. On reading this section I see the case of a person who has to be lifted from bed and placed in a stationary chair in a room where there may not be a wheel chair, and complying in all other respects with this clause; yet there is no provision to cover that case or if there is a provision it is a discriminatory one.

I think in view of the two other restrictive parts of this clause the words "wheel chair" might well be deleted, or certainly something along the line suggested by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre substituted.

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PC

William Gourlay Blair

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blair:

Mr. Chairman, I think this

clause could be rewritten in some manner and still meet the objective of the minister. There are some people who when placed in a wheel chair outside can go all over the garden lot. There are others who have to be lifted into a chair. It may be a morris chair or an arm chair or something of that nature. They cannot move or propel themselves or anything of that nature, but can be lifted into a morris chair, wheel chair or rocking chair for a short time in order to rest out of bed. Perhaps after an hour or two they must be placed back in bed.

I know what the minister is trying to accomplish and I think it is quite right, but I believe if the wording were different he

could accomplish what he is attempting to do and still meet what the hon. member has just spoken about. I just point out that the wheel chair is not a limitation, because those who occupy them can go any place they like. In many cases they can propel themselves and are infinitely better off than a person who has to be lifted out of bed and placed in an arm chair. I think the minister should consider rewriting that clause.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I am very grateful for the

comments of the hon. gentlemen. It seems to me that what really happened here was that the lady got out of the bed. The judge went one step further and said that getting out of bed in itself vitiates the advantage of the tax concessions, but it would not have done so had she got into a wheel chair. If the original premise is correct; namely if parliament intended to allow an exemption to two groups of persons, the first being persons who have been confined to bed for 12 months-and I do mean confined to bed, because that is what the section says-then unless there have been administrative regulations with which I am not familiar this lady would not have lost the advantage by getting out of bed.

There is another group of quite obviously paralysed persons or disabled persons who do not have to stay in bed but can get around with a chair, so we said we would give that group the advantage of this also because primarily they require an attendant, so there is nothing unusual about this judgment. The judge says in effect, "If you had been fortunate enough to be able to get into a wheel chair I might have been able to find in your favour," though I do not know how many of these Sunday afternoon drives or other things would have to take place before the judge would have felt he could not grant the exemption.

Let us leave it this way. I think the hon. member for Lanark has agreed with me that it must be a genuine benefit for a very needy group of people, and that if we are too restrictive, if we should not have these groups just confined to a wheel chair because they are paralysed and need an attendant or are in bed and need an attendant, if there is an in-between course we will try and find what it is.

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PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (York West):

Mr. Chairman, I intended to ask a question about the first part of this clause. How does the minister define, "housing corporations resident in Canada"? Does that mean that the buildings which the corporation constructs are in Canada or does it mean the corporation must hold a charter from one of the governmental agencies?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I could explain that when we reach clause 14. It is the same group.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Mr. Chairman, I think perhaps the point I want to raise was referred to on a previous occasion. If that is the case I shall have to go through Hansard and look it up. I want to refer to the $100 deduction for charitable donations. It occurs to me there is an unfairness about this in one respect. A person is allowed a deduction of $100 for charitable donations to start with, and he can claim that $100 even though he has not given a dollar. This means that the person who is generous and gives, let us say, $500 is really credited with only $400 compared to the other person who claims $100 and has not given anything. I think this provision is unfair in that respect.

I am not saying that the person who gives $500 should be credited with a donation of $600, but I think it is unfair that the person who is a mean man can claim $100 even though he has not given a nickel. The generous person who gives $500 to his church or to the Red Cross or some other charitable organization is given $100 less credit than the man who does not give a thing. It seems to me there should be some balance of fairness there.

Why should not the man who does give to charitable institutions be allowed $100 the same as the mean man, plus credit for any other amount in excess of that which he might give? Perhaps it would be fairer if it were provided that a person cannot claim $100 without supporting his claim with receipts. That would solve the problem. However, that is not what I understand is going to be the case. I understand that a man can claim $100 even though he has not given a nickel, and he is not required to produce any receipt, while the fellow who does donate generously to charitable institutions does not receive credit for that $100. Does the minister not agree that there is an element of unfairness in this provision?

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April 5, 1957