January 13, 1958

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles

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

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, which I ask out of appreciation of the statement the Prime Minister has made. In view of the fact that Canada has made some notable contributions to international relations in other instances, does he not think this might be a

field where we could, by hard work and application, make a really worth while contribution to the future of mankind?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   CODE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW RESPECTING OUTER SPACE
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I believe Canadians can always do that. As a matter of fact I feel that at the present time considerable advance in the development of international law in this regard is being achieved or certainly undertaken at McGill University, and I hope the problem would receive the attention of other interested Canadians as well as governmental authorities.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   CODE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW RESPECTING OUTER SPACE
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OLD AGE SECURITY

ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make an announcement to supplement the statements of policy which the government has already made, and the action which the government has already taken, with reference to the important question of old age security.

Speaking in this house on November 19 last, as recorded at page 1298 of Hansard, of that date, I said:

-we in this government and party intend at the earliest possible date, in addition to the present pension systems, to give full consideration to investigating the insurance system in the United States to the end that we will bring about in Canada a rounded and effective contributory social security system over and above that which already exists.

My reason for referring to the United States insurance system at that time was simply that of all the systems of government old age security in effect in the world today, I know of none which equals the widespread benefits provided under the United States contributory system. I also referred to that matter when I spoke in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on April 30, 1957.

We have acted since then to improve the level of benefits under our Old Age Security Act by increasing them to $55 per month. But, as pointed out in this party's official statement, "A new national policy," the United States plan of old age and survivors insurance provides average monthly benefits on retirement of $76 for single workers, $128 for aged married couples without dependants and $65 for aged widows.

We have made a preliminary examination of the United States contributory old age and survivors insurance program and have found:

(a) that it has grown steadily over the years both in coverage and in generosity of benefits;

(b) that it is now possible for single retired workers to draw benefits as high as $108.50

Old Age Security

a month with corresponding benefits to married couples and to other groups and categories;

(c) that it provides in addition generous survivor benefits, up to $200 a month for dependent wives and children of insured breadwinners who die before the age of retirement is reached;

(d) that retirement benefits are made available at age 65 for men and 62 for women, compared with age 70 in Canada;

(e) that disability insurance benefits are provided for insured persons whose ill health makes premature retirement necessary in advance of normal ages for retirement;

(f) that all of this is provided, as pointed out in our national policy statement, for an "annual contribution per person of $27.08, not much more than the average contribution by Canadians of $22.70 for the old age pension."

With these facts before us we have decided that further detailed investigation and inquiry should be made as quickly as possible to produce the information which will enable us to determine whether a similar system or some modification of it would be fitted or adapted to our Canadian requirements, in addition, of course-and I should like to emphasize this point-to our present system.

Because of this, the government has decided to establish, by the most careful and objective inquiry into the available facts and experience, how best we can expand the present old age pension system by the addition of an insurance system similar to that of the United States. In that connection, there has been no complete Canadian study undertaken since the parliamentary committee reported in 1950. In the light of the intervening years a further investigation is needed in order to ascertain on the basis of experience what if any changes should be made in the recommendations made by that committee.

For this purpose we have retained the services of Mr. Gordon Huson, professor of business administration at the University of Western Ontario, to make an independent factual study of all the aspects of the United States system and its application to our Canadian problem; and to report thereon to the government at the earliest opportunity.

Professor Huson will undertake this study almost immediately, and will have placed at his disposal whatever facilities are necessary to facilitate the effective carrying out of this important assignment. If in the course of his inquiry Professor Huson finds it helpful to look into the details of comparable systems of retirement security plans in effect in other countries he will, of course, be free to do

Old Age Security

so. But in order to expedite the completion of the undertaking at the earliest possible date it is our intention that he should concern himself principally with the facts relating to the United States program, and with that in mind we have set out his commission of inquiry in the following terms:

To make an inquiry into the facts relating to the old age security systems presently in effect in Canada and the United States of America with particular reference to those features of the old age and survivors insurance program in the United States of America, which make it possible for higher benefits to be paid covering a wider range of contingencies at an earlier age than is provided under present legislation, and to report thereon as soon as may he possible.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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Hon. Paul Marlin@Essex East

Mr. Speaker, one would think the Prime Minister had indulged today in very extraordinary generosity in affording at least two of us on this side of the house the opportunity to ask him a question.

I am sure the house is most interested in the very important announcement he has made with regard to the government's intention to investigate the old age security and survivors program in the United States which, as he noted, the all-party committee of 1950 carefully examined. May I ask the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that the United States government contributes nothing whatsoever to the program in that country, contributions being paid entirely by employers and employees, it will be the intention of the government to follow the same practice and not make any contribution to that kind of scheme?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend apparently misapprehends the nature of my remarks. We are going to have the plan examined, and on the basis of that examination will determine what changes will be necessary in order to make it applicable to Canada.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. Sinclair:

Window dressing.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this group may I say that we welcome the announcement the Prime Minister has made today, which is by way of further elaboration of the statement he made on November 19 when he spoke in the debate on an amendment to the motion to go into committee of supply which it had been my privilege to move from this corner of the house. He knows from press reports the position already taken by this party along the same lines, and I may say that if the government or any group in the house proposes a plan whereby there will be contributory old age insurance over and above

the old age security pension now paid out of the consolidated revenue fund, that plan will have our support.

May I ask the Prime Minister if that is in his mind, that any insurance scheme would be over and above and without interfering with the pensions paid to all under the present plan? I understood it that way, but perhaps it could be made clear, particularly in view of the questions that have now been asked by the two parties on this side of the house.

May I ask one other question. Would it be the intention of the government to act immediately upon any report received as a result of this inquiry, or is it the intention of the government to have another parliamentary committee look into this important question?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

In so far as the first question is concerned, Mr. Speaker, as I said in my statement the course to be followed would be that it would be in addition to, over and above, old age security.

With respect to the second part of the question, that deals with a matter of technique and the manner of consideration by the house after investigation has been made by Mr. Huson; and the matter will have to remain in abeyance until the report is received.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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LIB

Claude Sartoris Richardson

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

May I ask the Prime Minister a supplementary question on this matter?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Perhaps the hon. member would defer his question until the orders of the day are called.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make one comment on the announcement made by the Prime Minister and then ask a question. I think the time has arrived when the government of Canada should make a real effort to have old age pensions, particularly, placed on such a basis that they could be taken out of politics, that is, they could be removed as far as possible from the position of a political football. I was wondering if that was in the Prime Minister's mind. Is it his purpose to try to get these pensions established on such a basis that they would be removed from the auction sale? I feel that has been one of the worst features of this whole business.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

There is nothing in the nature of an auction sale in the announcement I made. Certainly the objective the hon. member has in mind is one that will appeal in general, I am sure. When the investigation has been conducted by Mr. Huson, then the matter will be brought before the house and such consideration given to it, either by submission to a committee or otherwise, as will be necessary in

order to bring about that type of general security plan, provided that is the decision arrived at, that will be best for our country.

[Later:!

On the orders of the day:

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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Mr, Claude Richardson (St. Lawrence-St. George):

May I put a question, then, to the Prime Minister in relation to old age security. When is it expected, in view of the fact that circumstances are changing quickly, that this report might be received?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Because circumstances do change quickly it would be impossible at the moment to say. What we want is to have it brought in at the earliest possible date.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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LIB

James Allen (Jim) Byrne

Liberal

Mr. J. A. Byrne (Kootenay East):

I should like to ask a supplementary question of the Prime Minister before he gets too enthusiastic about the United States plan. Does he realize that only 60 per cent of the people retiring are covered by the United States plan?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

The number has been rising steadily. I have not the latest percentage. It is for that reason among other things that this full investigation is going to be undertaken.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. Alistair Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister realize that he is wrecking the Liberal convention by this announcement?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INQUIRY INTO CANADIAN AND U.S. SYSTEMS
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January 13, 1958