November 10, 1964

PRIVILEGE

MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX

NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting not only all the members of this house but more than a million Canadians. It may be that my point of privilege is due to a misprint in a document which I have in my hand. If so that can be corrected without delay. On the other hand, if what I have in my hand is correct I think other steps should be taken. Yesterday in the course of her remarks to this house the Minister of National Health and Welfare used these words:

-all future old age security pensions will be pegged to the cost of living index and will increase automatically if living costs increase.

Later she said:

-this will provide not only a greater measure of security but will also protect the real value of the pension dollar for Canada's million-odd pensioners.

We were given no details, but what the minister said was spoken in the present tense. When we got the bill last night after the debate was over we learned that the possible increase due to this adjustment cannot be received by any person drawing old age security until 1968, and that the possible amount of increase in 1968 is 75 cents.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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?

Some hon. Members:

Shame.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

It might be $1.50; it might be nothing; probably it will be 75 cents. I submit, from looking at the bill, that this could well be a misprint. If so I trust it will be corrected. If not I trust that the Liberal party, which found out that six bucks was not good enough in 1957, will not try six bits in 1968.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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LIB

Julia Verlyn (Judy) LaMarsh (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Hon. Judy V. LaMarsh (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, on the particular point I should hasten to say to the

chamber that this is not a misprint; that the address I made yesterday was on the resolution preceding Bill No. C-136, and this was known by all hon. members to be the case. All the remarks I made at that time have reference to that particular bill. Since last August it has been known by the members of this chamber and members of the public that the initial coming into effect of the bill was not anticipated to be until January 1, 1966. Within the bill there is provision for commencement, on a number of dates subsequent to that date, of benefits which will accrue to contributors and survivors; that also in the bill is indicated the initial tying to an index figure, something to take into account the increases, if any, which take place over a certain period of time which are then calculated for a two year period. There was no attempt to mislead the chamber or the public at large; that the amendments to the old age security act which are incorporated as part of Bill C-136 would come into effect at any point of time earlier than the main provisions of the Canada pension plan.

In so far as my hon. friend's suggestion that the original increase would be 75 cents or $1.50, it should be noted that use of an index is a departure, and it is the first time an index has been used for any payment in this country. My hon. friend and his party, as well as other hon. members opposite, enthusiastically accepted this last night, and indeed have heretofore urged such an inclusion in government legislation. My hon. friend now sounds as if he is unhappy that one of the matters which he himself has urged has been adopted by the government.

It should not be forgotten that the index which is to be attached to the old age security payments is to bring them into line with the index which is attached to pension payments under the Canada pension plan proper. Nothing in the proposed old age security amendments deals with the base rate of $75 a month which this government introduced a year ago and which was unanimously approved by the house. Nor is anything in this bill intended to exclude any future action by any parliament with respect to that base.

This is a very major, very far reaching and sweeping change in social legislation in this country, Mr. Speaker, and indeed commences

Question of Privilege

in a responsible way by tying the plan to the index at the time at which it comes into operation. I suppose my hon. friend in the flush of yesterday's by-election victory, which he should regard really as a victory against the Conservative party and not otherwise, now seeks to make political capital out of something which he has generously, and I think sincerely, long since accepted as a really major step forward. I would ask my hon. friend and all hon. members of the house to bear in mind that in the usual spirit of Canadian fiscal responsibility we are beginning this experiment in a relatively modest manner.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Speaker, for obvious reasons I will not attempt to debate this matter at this point.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

But, Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege, the Minister of National Health and Welfare made one statement concerning me which is not correct. I have not been an advocate of pegging the old age pension to the cost of living index. I have been an advocate of raising the absolute amount.

On the orders of the day:

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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PC

Jay Waldo Monteith

Progressive Conservative

Hon. J. W. Monteith (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, since the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre apparently had a copy of the bill to which we gave first reading last night, may I ask the Minister of National Health and Welfare if she will undertake to make sure that the other members of the house are supplied with copies before the day is out?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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LIB

Julia Verlyn (Judy) LaMarsh (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Hon. Judy V. LaMarsh (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, I had about 100 copies here last night, and I assume those have gone somewhere. I believed each member would have received one this morning, but some members tell me they did not get them. I have just checked and I am told it was not possible to print more than the original 100 until a number was given to the bill, and by virtue of its length it is not likely members will have copies before Thursday.

There are 100-odd copies in existence, but 1 apologize to the house because the rest will not be available before Thursday morning in either language.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

As

a supplementary question, would the minister give consideration to having this cost of living bonus for old age security pensioners brought in by amendments to the old age

security legislation so it could become effective immediately and could be based on the cost of living as of October, 1963, when the last increase was granted? It seems to me this would be a much more rational approach to the whole problem rather than having to wait until the Canada pension plan becomes effective.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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LIB

Julia Verlyn (Judy) LaMarsh (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Miss LaMarsh:

Well, Mr. Speaker, the last 20-odd clauses of the Canada pension plan bill are an amendment to the Old Age Security Act, and as this bill has received first reading it is further advanced than any other legislation which could possibly be introduced.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

As a supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the Minister of Veterans Affairs was able, after consultation, to amend his announcement, would the minister have similar consultation to see if she cannot get this bonus amended and back dated?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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LIB

Julia Verlyn (Judy) LaMarsh (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Miss LaMarsh:

Mr. Speaker, my colleague did not amend his announcement. He simply did not disclose in the first part the effective date, but he did so subsequently in response to a question.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES-PEGGING OF OLD AGE SECURITY PENSIONS TO COST OF LIVING INDEX
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VETERANS AFFAIRS

ANNOUNCEMENT OF INCREASES IN PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES

LIB

Roger-Joseph Teillet (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. Roger Teillel (Minister of Veterans Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, on October 30 I informed the house that there would be an announcement of government proposals to increase pensions and war veterans allowances. In conformity with that statement I am now able to make the following announcement.

There will be brought before the house at the earliest opportunity a supplementary estimate that will enable an across the board increase in disability pensions payable under the Pension Act of approximately 10 per cent, and a similar increase to pensions awarded to widows and dependent children. I am sure the house will agree that this increase in pension rates is warranted.

I am pleased to announce that the supplementary estimates will include an amount which will permit an increase in the attendance allowance from the present maximum of $1,800 a year to a maximum $3,000 a year. There will also be increases in the allowances such as for wear and tear of clothing, which are also authorized by the

Pension Act under certain circumstances. It is estimated that the additional annual cost of these pension increases, based on the present number of pensioners, will be about $17 million, and the annual cost of increasing the attendance allowance will be some $500,000.

The other important matter to which I wish to refer is the proposal of the government to increase war veterans allowances. In reaching a decision on the appropriate amount of these increases we have taken into consideration the recommendations that have been made by veterans organizations. It is proposed to increase the maximum monthly rate of war veterans allowances for a single person to $94 and for a person paid at the married rate to $161 a month, with corresponding adjustments in the rates paid to orphans.

In considering appropriate adjustments in the maximum income ceilings under the War Veterans Allowance Act we have also considered the recommendations received from organized veterans. We have decided that any adjustments in the ceilings should remove the anomaly that at present exists with respect to the ceiling applicable to veterans and widows below age 70 and the ceiling above age 70, where the recipient is in receipt of an old age security pension. At present a recipient over that age is in effect allowed a ceiling, if payment is at the single rate, of $240 a year higher than if he or she were under age 70 and, if payment is at the married rate and the husband and wife are both over age 70, the difference is $480 a year.

In order to provide a ceiling in accordance with the recommendations we have received, and to remove this anomaly, but nevertheless ensure that every recipient will enjoy some increase, including the proposed disability pension increase, we are proposing that the annual income ceilings be raised to $1,596 for a single recipient and to $2,664 where the recipient is paid at the married rate.

I should also mention that corresponding increases in rates and changes in income ceilings will apply as well to those who are in receipt of allowances under the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act. These increases and changes under both acts will also be accomplished by means of a supplementary estimate. It is estimated that these proposed increases in rates and the ceiling adjustments under the War Veterans Allowance Act and the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act will result in an additional expenditure of about $16,250,000 a year.

Veterans Pensions Increase

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, this statement will be welcomed by members of the house as an indication of the recognition that the welfare of Canada's veterans is of responsible concern to all of us.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INCREASES IN PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT OF INCREASES IN PENSIONS AND ALLOWANCES
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November 10, 1964