Hon. J. W. Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare):
Mr. Speaker, I have an announcement to make which I believe represents a new breakthrough in Canada's welfare system.
I have today written provincial ministers informing them of the government's intention to initiate a new program of welfare grants designed to assist in overcoming major deficiencies in our present nation-wide network of welfare services. By 1967 these grants will result in the channelling of $2,500,000 annually in federal funds into the fields of general welfare, professional training, and research. Nothing like this has ever been done in Canada before, and I hope there will be discussions with provincial authorities in the near future with a view to obtaining their full co-operation in an endeavour which I believe will strengthen tremendously Canada's welfare efforts.
There are two separate grants involved. The one pertaining to general welfare and professional training will commence at a level of $450,000 for 1962-63 and increase at the rate of $450,000 annually for five years, reaching $2,250,000 by 1966-67. The other grant respecting welfare research will begin at a level of $50,000 in 1962-63 and increase at the rate of $50,000 annually for five years, reaching an amount of $250,000 in 1966-67. Funds for the current fiscal year will be provided through a supplementary estimate.
This new program will be complemented by the establishment of a national council of welfare, as announced in the speech from the throne. I hope to make a statement very shortly indicating the membership of the council, one of whose first tasks will be to assist in working out the details of the new grants system. As I have indicated previously, I would also like the council to consider a number of other important social security matters such as the development of a new and integrated approach to public assistance, and the need for an increase in the level of benefits under family allowances along with the question of raising the age limit at which such allowances are paid in the case of children who are still attending school.
In taking these historic initiatives in relation to welfare, the government is anxious to furnish a balance to the emphasis which has long been placed on the provision of cash benefits. Income maintenance payments such as old age assistance, blindness and disability allowances, and unemployment assistance are vitally important, but in many instances their effectiveness has been reduced to some extent by the shortage of human resources
Health and Welfare
necessary to implement them fully. The welfare grants and the new council will, we believe, go a long way toward giving a more positive impact to these measures.
As far as the welfare research grant is concerned, we have seen the benefits which have accrued from scientific research in many fields, including health. We feel that similar gains may well be registered as a result of concentrated and organized study of human problems such as long term dependency and juvenile delinquency. A good deal of work is, of course, already being done in such areas and it is our hope that federal assistance will provide the necessary added impetus to these efforts.
The welfare research grant will be made available on a non-matching basis, while the general welfare and professional training grant will be on a matching basis with the provinces except for two of its aspects, scholarships and fellowships, including travel costs, and teaching and field instruction grants. Neither grant will be allocated among the provinces but both will be held in a central pool similar to the method followed for public health research under the national health grants program.
Projects relating to the field of corrections of concern to the Department of Justice will also be covered by this program through cooperation between our two departments.
Mr. Speaker, the government has received many representations calling for the kind of program we are now initiating. As the Prime Minister told the annual meeting of the Canadian Welfare Council in May, 1961, we have also had a frank exchange of views with representatives of welfare organizations about what should be done. As a result, the government is particularly aware of the many serious problems being encountered in the welfare field and has come to the conclusion that a national system of welfare grants affords the best approach to their solution.
Subtopic: ANNOUNCEMENT OF WELFARE GRANTS FOR RESEARCH, ETC.-ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL WELFARE COUNCIL