November 18, 1964

LIB

Eugene Whelan

Liberal

Mr. Whelan:

Thank you for the compliment.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

The hon. member has thanked me for the compliment. I should indicate that it was a compliment. I think both speeches have enlightened the members of this house and have clarified what was a confusing situation.

Mr. Speaker, I think the reputation which parliament has established during this session, and the attitude of the government in particular toward the business of this house, and the disrepute this country generally feels toward this parliament, has been reflected in the presentation of the Canada pension plan. That is a regrettable situation. It is a shame that a limitation has been suggested for the debate on second reading. Second reading is actually the stage during which a bill is accepted in principle. With such a limitation many contributions which might be made will not be made.

I am also disappointed because this Canada pension plan is not nearly good enough for Canada. Had we adopted a pension plan years ago when the Unemployment Insurance Act was passed, we would at that time have gone to the provinces, held federal-provincial conferences, and come to some kind of a compromise on the part of all governments, including the government of that province which was least willing to accept unemployment insurance, and found a solution to the unemployment problem of much greater advantage to the Canadian worker than would have been possible in any other way. What is being done today by the Liberal government, is adopting legislation as a result of provincial-federal conferences, followed by a request that parliament rubber stamp what that conference has decided.

I give the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Miss LaMarsh) full credit for the additional plan she introduced, and while we may or may not agree with its terms, the plan was being offered to all the provinces. On the other hand, the bill now before us does not qualify as either fish or fowl, but is a plan developed at federal-provincial conferences, after taking into consideration the wishes of a province which has decided not to participate. I have heard many members who represent that province stand in their place and attempt to make some contribution to this debate, just as though they were going to participate in this plan.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

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

Liberal

Miss LaMarsh:

They are.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

The minister says they are going to participate. They are going to participate only because the federal government

Canada Pension Plan

has agreed that provinces can develop similar comprehensive plans, but I suggest that one province has already put into effect the plan which the federal government is going to adopt.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

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

Liberal

Miss LaMarsh:

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would remind the hon. member that all members of this House of Commons will become contributors in respect of their indemnities in this place.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

The members from Quebec may be able to do that, and that creates another round of arguments as to who is going to make contributions, and to whom.

Mr. Speaker, I feel that the government of Canada should have been prepared to propose a plan to be administered in a manner similar to the Unemployment Insurance Act, even though the development of such a plan would require more time and effort. The government should establish an act, even though requiring an amendment to the British North America Act, which amalgamates old age security and old age pensions. Such a plan would provide basic pensions, and all provinces would have to participate, or would not receive any old age security or old age pension.

I see the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Benson) shaking his head. He probably will not agree with my suggestion because such a plan would not involve negotiation with the provinces, and the provinces would have to accept it or reject it. I think that situation will eventually exist.

Many people in this country are becoming tired of this parliament rubber stamping the agreements negotiated at federal-provincial conferences. It seems impossible for the federal government to stand up and say, this is the legislation we are presenting and Quebec can either like it or lump it. This government is afraid to say that what it proposes must be accepted and participated in by all provinces, and that it could not care less which course the provinces followed, but that if a province did not wish to participate, that is its prerogative, and it would receive nothing. Someone else I am sure will say that such a proposal would involve an amendment to the British North America Act. This bill now before us involves two amendments to the B.N.A. Act, in order to provide for some of the supplementary benefits.

This social security scheme has certain benefits, advantages and disadvantages. I believe the main advantage is its portability. That is

Canada Pension Plan

a very important aspect of any national pension scheme. It will allow Canadians to take their pensions from one job to another job, and from one province to another province. This involves a significant step forward, and is a step which no federal-provincial plan could neglect.

This aspect of the proposed plan will provide mobility of the working force of this nation. This mobility has not existed in recent years, even in government agencies, because applicants over 40 years of age have been turned down on the basis that if they at that age began to contribute to existing pension plans, this would throw out the actuarial studies already being made by those agencies. This plan will allow individuals to take their pensions from one job to another and remove the disadvantage to older employees, who are unable to obtain new jobs.

Many individuals, including one Creditiste who spoke yesterday, have suggested that we should share our responsibilities toward poverty stricken areas. I would not suggest that pensions of $104 per month, plus old age security, would represent abject poverty, if this plan were put into operation immediately; but I do believe that greater contributions would be welcomed by employees if suitable and graduated increases in benefits were made applicable.

In Germany for instance you are able to retire on at least half of the amount you earn in the highest five year period of earnings. They are much more advanced than we are. If you examine some of the pension plans in Europe you will find that for 50 or 60 years there has been portability between provinces, as we are suggesting here, and between other countries as well. I think the door should be left open in this regard in our pension plan so that there will be portability of sections of our social security system. Then those who wish to return to their homes will be able to carry their pensions with them. This scheme of course involves a great deal of negotiation by the external affairs department with other countries in order to make this interchange possible. Perhaps the minister is going to be able to do it; I hope she does. She probably has in mind the Geneva conventions as a possible means. I strongly urge her to consider it. I know that I, personally, have received a number of letters from persons in sunny Florida, England and other places to the effect that these persons have been prevented from receiving even their old age pensions under the terms of our legislation.

There is no interchange between Canada and other countries that would allow portability of pensions at the present time.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray

Liberal

Mr. Gray:

It is in the bill.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

It is partly in the bill; this mobility is only partial. Our pensions are not portable to the extent that pensions are portable in Germany, Luxembourg, Denmark and so on, where it is 100 per cent. They are referring of course to the employees pension plan and not to the whole social security system. I understand, however, that in recent times there has been a move in these countries toward portability of all of their social security.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray

Liberal

Mr. Gray:

Would the hon. member accept a question?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray

Liberal

Mr. Gray:

Is he not aware that there are provisions in the bill permitting the government to make agreements with other countries regarding this international portability to which he is referring?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

I am in agreement that there are such provision. When the minister nodded her head, I assumed some steps would be taken in this direction by her department, I would assume through some of the existing agencies. I am not saying we have closed the door on this possibility. I am saying that I strongly urge the minister to proceed with these arrangements as quickly as possible so there will be portability with other countries. This has been a drawback of the plans we have had in Canada so far.

I am quite pleased with the fact that this plan is available, when it goes into effect, to those who are less than 65 years of age. We have been plagued with many persons who are not able to find employment after they reach the age of 50, sometimes even less. It is going to be absolutely necessary to provide them with assistance, either in the form of welfare payments through provincial governments as we are doing now, or through some form of contributory pension. I know that if we can reduce the pensionable age to 65, as we have done in this bill, it is quite possible that when the plan is fully in operation adjustments will be made to reduce the age still farther. I suggest that this be considered as soon as it is feasible.

One of the disadvantages of this plan, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that it is not universal. It is compulsory for some categories, but it is not universal. Many persons who are self-

employed, whether they be farmers or businessmen, will have to make a decision. I know many businessmen who say: I can look after myself; I could use this money to better advantage in my business today. Some of these people will find when they reach retirement age they are not able to make contributions to their retirement. They are not all going to be in the favoured position of the member of the Liberal party who received an old age pension the other day, calculated at about half a million dollars, by being appointed to the other place. Some of these people are going to have to make their own arrangements under this plan. I suggest the plan should have been made universal, and that the government should have arranged for everybody to contribute to the plan.

I notice there is great consternation about this. I believe that it is the right of a farmer to contribute to the plan if he wishes. This is the right of the self-employed. Arrangements can be made whereby they can do so, but it is not compulsory.

There has been considerable discussion, and I think it is worth-while discussion, about whether or not we should have a fully funded plan or the semi-funded plan that we have. I am not really committed to either side because I feel there should have been a great deal more consideration given to the point and more information available to members of parliament about it. I know there are many who say that in 20 years this plan will have $8 billion in it, and that this is a sizeable amount of money that can be used to advantage in the development of our nation. There are of course those, and I share their view, who say this money should have remained with the federal government, and that the federal government should have used it for the development of new industries. One such development which I hope will come into being in my lifetime is the Grand canal, which it has been indicated will cost about $2 billion. The indications are that this will be a self-liquidating plan in 50 years. It seems to me this is the type of development that a fully funded plan would have made possible for the federal government. However this money has now been allotted to the provincial governments. I believe this will cause some consternation. There will be provinces that will use it and other provinces that will leave the money with the federal government to invest in federal bonds and other securities.

I am of the opinion that we are not really qualified, as members of parliament, with the

Canada Pension Plan

information available, to decide whether or not this should have been a funded plan. I know the minister's department has considered this matter at great length, but I believe that she had to consider it in the light of the discussions that had taken place with the provinces and the fact that the provinces themselves said they would only participate in this type of plan if they were allowed to invest the money that was raised in their own provinces. I feel that our hands were bound before we faced a decision as to whether or not to accept the principle of this bill as a result of the discussions that took place between the federal and provincial governments.

There are many other parts of the bill, Mr. Speaker, upon which I feel the minister is to be congratulated. I am not completely in agreement that they should all have been brought into one bill. I am not sure that the Canada pension plan should not have stood on its own two feet without taking into account all these other things. If I had been the minister I would have kept the pension plan separate and distinct. I would not have referred to it as a social security system but would have called it a Canada pension plan.

However, I am not in disagreement with the additions that have been made. I think the minister is to be congratulated on making provision for survivor benefits in the Canada pension plan. In my opinion this is something that would normally have been included in a straight pension plan. However, in my view supplementary benefits do not really fall within the jurisdiction of what I would consider to be a pension plan. So far as disabled persons, widows, dependants of widows, and widowers in some cases are concerned, we have had joint federal-provincial plans which have been highly unsuccessful. They have provided very limited benefits to people who are totally dependant on such contributions for their very welfare.

I know that the Speaker should have some knowledge of this matter. I deal continually with a member of his family who is responsible for a very large area of this supplementary field at the provincial level and has to do with disabled persons allowances, mothers allowances and so on which are administered by the provincial government. Recently there has been a terrific deterioration in this field. These matters are now back in the provincial office rather than being dealt with regionally, and inasmuch as the law says a person must be totally and permanently disabled the

Canada Pension Plan administrator has not in the past been able to exercise any leniency. The matter now comes before a board. A person may say, "I am totally and permanently disabled, I have lost a leg and I am crippled with arthritis and can hardly move around". The doctors' reports all indicate this is the case, but the board says, "Well, you got here, didn't you?".

I am happy that under this new social security scheme the federal government will give consideration to such cases. Certainly all you have to do is to read the new provision and you will see the difference. I congratulate the minister on this because I have seen a great hardship and abuse under the present federal-provincial plan. The controlling words up to now have been "totally and permanently disabled" but in the white paper these are the words used:

-if an examination reveals a medically determinable impairment in which physical or mental disability is so severe and prolonged that he is unable to secure regular, substantially gainful employment.

Then he is considered to be disabled. Let me tell the minister that there will be thousands of persons throughout the nation who will be found to be disabled to the extent that they are not able to earn a living, not able to look after their families and in many cases not able to look after themselves. It would seem that with this change thoroughly fair and reasonable treatment will be accorded to them, and the minister is to be congratulated. I do not want to take the time to go into the other changes in these federal-provincial shared plans but I think that all the changes are advantageous.

I wish that parliament and the government had been strong enough to develop a completely federal plan because I believe that when we take into consideration the whims, the wishes and sometimes the eccentricities of ten provincial governments we cannot end up with the best plan possible. In my opinion the federal government should have had the audacity and the guts to introduce a completely federal plan and to tell the provinces that they could either participate in it or not but that the federal government intended to provide for those who wished the best plan possible for the money available from every Canadian who wanted to subscribe to the plan. If the government had done this I believe that the disagreement with the province of Ontario in particular would not have arisen.

But I was particularly surprised to find at the time of the second plan or possibly even

the third plan that the province of Quebec had developed a much more humane and advantageous pension plan that the federal government was providing. When I found this out I agreed that the government of Ontario should also say "me too". I think the minister should have disregarded the pressures that were being exerted by the insurance companies, pressures that do not appear to be evident at all today because members of the Conservative party have not risen in their seats to oppose the plan in any organized fashion. Therefore I presume that the insurance companies have abandoned their opposition to the plan. But as a Canadian I do wish that sooner or later the government would have the guts to present a plan on a national basis for the money that is available to them at that time. I also wish that they would then say to the provinces: You are welcome to participate in this plan if you wish, but this plan will be provided for every person in the country who wants it and we are not going to make any other arrangements. We will provide the right for you to opt out if you wish, but that will be final. You will not be allowed to come in and opt out as is the case with this plan.

Surely one day, Mr. Speaker, we will have a federal plan that every Canadian in every part of the country will be proud of and that we can brag about throughout the rest of the world as being the best pension plan in the world. I am sure we cannot do so today with the plan we have before us, but I believe that we have the facilities and the growth in productivity that should have enabled us to say that about the present plan.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray

Liberal

Mr. Gray:

Will the hon. member permit a question?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Certainly.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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LIB

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray

Liberal

Mr. Gray:

Is the hon. member not aware that the bill before us provides for compulsory coverage of the self-employed and the farmers? Perhaps the hon. member's speech was founded on the previous bill.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Well, there have been so many of them. I agree there is a clause with regard to limitation of income but having regard to the incomes that most farmers report under the Income Tax Act I do not believe they will meet the compulsory requirement and therefore they will not be covered.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Frank Howard (Skeena):

Mr. Speaker, it was my understanding that the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare also wanted to speak, but

as I did not see him rise I will proceed to make a few remarks with respect to the bill before us. In the first instance I want to indicate that because there are a number of bad features in the bill, because, as the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mr. Peters) and others have pointed out, it is not really adequate enough for the people of Canada, my support of the bill is conditional at this stage. I say "conditional" because this bill is to be referred to a committee where presumably there will be an extensive presentation of briefs and arguments for or against either the bill itself or with respect to particular provisions in it and I would hope that as a result of the work of this committee and the examination given to this legislation the bill will be reported back in a better form than the one in which we see it now. It is with this in mind that I say the support I give to it is conditional and qualified.

A number of people have indicated-I will not name them at the moment-that because we have raised doubts about the efficacy of certain provisions in this measure, because we have sought to point out where the bill fails and the extent to which it fails, we are really opposed to the bill itself. In order to prevent any attempt at misrepresentation of this sort we hope at the conclusion of the debate when the vote is taken to have a recorded vote so that everyone in the house may have an opportunity to stand and be counted either for or against this measure, because we know from past experience that politicians, being what they are, tend to take a position and misrepresent and distort it for their own political advantage. We would not like that sort of thing to occur with respect to the particular item before us.

A number of members have spoken about this bill as though they really believe in their hearts that it will finally be enacted as the law of Canada. There is some doubt, at least in my mind, that this bill will ever get on the statute books of this country. It is one of the most important that parliament has had before it for many, many years. It is also one of the most complex. It affects, or will affect, every person in Canada. It affects too a great number of organizations, companies and corporations across this country to a far greater extent than has any other single bill in recent years. Millions of people are concerned with the legislation and will be involved in it. There is the relationship between the plan proposed and private plans. While at the moment there seems to be some solution to

Canada Pension Plan

this problem there will, nevertheless, in the future be continuing concern about this relationship. There is the possibility of provinces enacting their own plans. There is the influence of the attitude of the various insurance companies of Canada, and there are the billions upon billions of dollars involved as well as the way in which this money will be used during the time it is contained within the fund.

Because we are at this particular point of our proceedings approaching, perhaps, a Christmas recess; because we are approaching, perhaps, the prorogation of this session in anticipation of the start of another, and because a number of Liberal cabinet ministers in recent weeks have been making noises at public gatherings about the possibility of an election in the early months of next year, we could be facing the dissolution of this parliament. We all know what would happen to any piece of legislation before parliament or before a committee should dissolution take place. It would be the end of it. In accordance with our normal practice should even the prorogation of this session take place in readiness for the start of a new session in the early part of the year, this too would mean the death of the bill now before us-it would have to be started all over again. There is a way out-and I commend it to the government-in the report of the committee on procedure submitted a few weeks ago to the effect that we should not have a new session of parliament but merely a recess, in order that the committee charged with the responsibility for considering this bill might have as long as possible in which to carry out its work and hear witnesses, and so that this parliament would still have the bill in existence at the time when the committee reports its proceedings. Failure to make such an arrangement would simply mean that when we do begin another session of parliament we shall have to start all over again from scratch; the bill would have to be preceded by a resolution, given first reading, and we should be back again doing what we are doing today. That seems to me to be a senseless waste of time, especially when one is dealing with a subject as vitally important as is the Canada pension plan presently before us.

If, as is expected, the government intends on its own initiative to ask for the dissolution of this parliament some time in the early months of next year with the result,

Canada Pension Plan

of course, that an election must follow, and the committee has not completed its hearings by that time, it would mean the death of the Canada pension plan, and this would be a regrettable state of affairs. But past experience of the Liberal party both here in Ottawa and in various provinces leads me to suspect that this may happen. In that way the Liberal party would be able to sell the idea of the Canada pension plan to the contributors, or potential contributors, in this nation in exchange for votes and support while at the same time allaying the fears of the insurance companies that the plan would actually be put into effect. If what I am suggesting does take place it would be another blot on the record of the Liberal party, a record which is filled with instances of chicanery and double dealing in such affairs as this.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard:

Hon. members opposite may chortle but they need only read a little of the history of their party to realize that this is the case.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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?

An hon. Member:

What about the C.C.F. party?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM
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November 18, 1964