March 18, 1968

?

Some hon. Members:

Ten o'clock.

Topic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   CHANGES IN PERSONNEL OF STANDING COMMITTEES
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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

It being ten o'clock, and there appearing to be objection to the motion now before the house, would the house agree that the motion be considered tomorrow?

Topic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   CHANGES IN PERSONNEL OF STANDING COMMITTEES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   CHANGES IN PERSONNEL OF STANDING COMMITTEES
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the house under provisional standing order 39A deemed to have been moved.


HEALTH AND WELFARE-SASKATCHEWAN- RESTRICTION ON FEDERAL CONTRIBUTION UNDER MEDICARE

PC

Lewis Mackenzie Brand

Progressive Conservative

Mr. L. M. Brand (Saskatoon):

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, February 12, the Prime Minister made a statement in the house regarding the 27053-4901

DEBATES 7777

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion implementation of medicare. In part, and as reported at page 6599 of Hansard, he said: Today it remains the concern of the federal government to find the best way in which federal and provincial action can most effectively contribute, once the present legislation has come into effect, to achieve a practical medical care program available to as many Canadians as possible as soon as possible.

He went on to state that the act, with all its ramifications, will come into effect on July 1 of this year, and that at the outset only one or two provinces would participate since only one or two had satisfied the criteria set down by the government of Canada. The province of Saskatchewan will be one of those provinces, Mr. Speaker, and it certainly qualifies under the criteria because since 1962 the government of Saskatchewan has had in effect a comprehensive medical care program.

Coming into the scheme with only one other province, and perhaps another one or two, it cannot of course hope to meet the requirements of portability since the question comes to mind as to where and with whom can such a plan be portable. However, that seems to be beside the point, and I await with interest how the present government plans or intends to implement this particular part of the medicare criteria.

However, Mr. Speaker, as I read the Prime Minister's remarks it does seem clear that the Prime Minister wishes federal funds to be used to provide medical care for citizens of our individual qualifying provinces; but nowhere has the government stated unequivocally that the funds to be provided for medical care to the provinces will be grants conditional upon their use for the provision of payment of physicians' services or other essential portions of the medical care program.

As a consequence, Mr. Speaker, on March 12 I asked the Minister of National Health and Welfare whether the money designated for Saskatchewan under the medical care program becoming effective July 1 would be designated for use for medical care only. I asked this question for a very valid reason indeed. Under the medical care legislation passed in Saskatchewan in 1962, the government of Saskatchewan has the power to introduce deterrent fees or other fiscal measures designed to deter citizens from making use of the medical care plan, and thus save the government money.

March 18, 1968

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion

Recently in Saskatchewan the government has stated that the costs of medicare are rising so rapidly that it would be necessary to introduce a deterrent fee of $1.50 per patient per office visit in order to save approximately $5 million which the government-and I quite believe this-claims it does not have. This money is necessary to meet the increase in costs of medical care in Saskatchewan. This deterrent fee will start on April 15. In addition, Mr. Speaker, $2.50 will be charged the average patient for every day that he is in hospital.

Since it seems obvious that such catastrophic deterrent fees will penalize those who are least able to pay, surely it is equally obvious that if this government will state unequivocally that the grants for medical care are conditional upon their use for medical care only in the province of Saskatchewan and other provinces, this will obviate the necessity for the introduction of this deterrent fee.

Since the amount coming to Saskatchewan in one year will be somewhere in the $12 million to $14 million range, this would mean that this year somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6 million would be available for the people of Saskatchewan and would save them from the imposition of deterrent fees. It would also save them from the burden of additional double taxation.

An answer at this time from the minister, or from his charming parliamentary secretary, would mean a great deal not only to the people of our province but to the people of every province. It would prevent an indiscriminate use of medical care funds for the purpose of balancing provincial budgets which have been overburdened by other expenditure on such things as highways, public buildings and the like. So I ask the minister through his parliamentary secretary to do the people of Saskatchewan a favour and assure them that the federal medical care funds will be used and designated for the purpose for which they were intended, namely the provision of medical care for the people not only of Saskatchewan but in every part of Canada.

[DOT] (10:10 p.m.)

Topic:   HEALTH AND WELFARE-SASKATCHEWAN- RESTRICTION ON FEDERAL CONTRIBUTION UNDER MEDICARE
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LIB

Margaret Isabel Rideout (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mrs. Margaret Rideout (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, the payments made by the federal government to a province under the Medical Care Act are based on the national average per capita cost actually

incurred by the medical care plans of all participating provinces in payments to medical practitioners for insured services provided to insured residents of those provinces.

Consequently the federal financial contribution during any fiscal year is a reimbursement of moneys actually spent during that fiscal year and there is no designation as to what use the province must put it.

Co-insurance charges payable by or on behalf of an individual patient are not recognized as provincial costs in determining the national average per capita cost.

Topic:   HEALTH AND WELFARE-SASKATCHEWAN- RESTRICTION ON FEDERAL CONTRIBUTION UNDER MEDICARE
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IMMIGRATION-ADMISSION OF SEASONAL FARM LABOUR FROM WEST INDIES

PC

John Ellwood Madill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. E. Madill (Dufferin-Simcoe):

My

question goes to the Minister of Manpower and Immigration and it relates to the subject I raised on Thursday, March 14-the bringing in of seasonal labour from the West Indies. My supplementary question, when I asked why the minimum wage rate had been so drastically increased, was ruled out of order.

To preface my remarks I should like to place on record telegrams received from growers and distributors of vegetables in the Bradford and Holland Marsh area which are nationally known. There is no end to the number of these telegrams; I shall place only a few of them on record so that the minister may understand how urgent this question is; the growing season is fast approaching and greenhouse work is being carried out in preparation for the coming crop and in anticipation of this labour being used.

The first telegram reads:

Strenuously object to minimum hourly rate of $1.45 for West Indies casual labour. This will only speed up the primary producers being forced out of business and raise the living cost of our population. These people are happy to work for our minimum rate of $1.25. If impossible to change suggest discontinue unemployment benefits for months prior to November to divert local labour for the harvest.

This comes from Springdale Farms at Bradford. Another telegram of the same nature comes from Hillside Gardens, Bradford:

We strongly object to hourly rate of $1.45 for West Indies casual labour. With transportation and housing etc. this comes to two dollars plus. Would be happy to use Canadian labour for this short period of time if available.

The following telegram was sent by Federal Farms:

Vigorously protest increase imposed for West Indian farm labour. Rate in addition to transportation, free housing, far exceeds minimum wage set

March 18, 1968

by government and local rates. This increase confirmed the entire immigration program established could be in jeopardy. Our minimum muck soil acreage is 400.

In drawing attention to this subject I am working in co-operation with the hon. member for Lambton-Kent (Mr. McCutcheon) and the hon. member for Kent (Ont.) (Mr. Dan-forth). I find in the Windsor Star of Tuesday, March 12 an article headed: "Jamaicans' pay increase hit". It is a long article, but it reads in part:

In addition to a guaranteed minimum of $58 a week, the Jamaicans are provided with living accommodation and their fare to and from Jamaica by plane, which is $140 return on charter flights and $275 return when they have to be carried on regular flights.

The experience of employers in 1967 was that Jamaicans employed on a piecework basis on tomatoes and apples earned more than the $145 minimum.

In the same article a Hamilton union chief is reported to have protested to the Ontario department of labour that Jamaican workers were ill paid and ill housed while they were in Ontario. The writer continues:

The most significant part of the protest was that the official misrepresented all the conditions under which Jamaican workers are allowed into Canada.

He even indicated that workers brought in had to pay their own air fare, when actually the only deductions made for this purpose are made at the request of the government authorities in Jamaica, who want to recover transportation costs of workers from Trinidad and other islands to Jamaica, before they embark for Canada.

With the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) speaking of restraints and the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mr. Turner) studying a chain of food stores, I cannot understand how the Minister of Manpower and Immigration (Mr. Marchand) can act in this way, adding further to the costs of producers and merchandisers who have to compete in world markets.

According to the Ottawa Journal of March 15 our jobless total is the highest since 1964. It stated that farm jobs dropped by 23,000 in one month. With 750,000 unemployed I cannot see how raising the wages of these Jamaican workers-some are experienced and some are not-can do anything but make the situation worse. If unemployment insurance were held off for a longer period, to the fall, possibly some of our own unemployed would work to help these market gardeners harvest their crops.

I hope the minister will reconsider this matter and retain the minimum wage at $1.25

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion for these immigrants coming in as casual labour. I would point out that these people are expecting an answer from me, and I hope the minister can do something about the matter.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION-ADMISSION OF SEASONAL FARM LABOUR FROM WEST INDIES
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LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Hon. B. S. Mackasey (Member of the Administration):

Mr. Speaker, in the brief time at my disposal I shall try to acquaint the hon. member as to how this minimum figure was arrived at. On March 1 the Minister of Manpower and Immigration (Mr. Marchand) announced that in the summer of 1968 we will once again admit seasonal agricultural workers from the West Indies to help with harvesting of crops in southwestern Ontario. This decision was not an easy one. There are indications that Canadian workers available for seasonal work in agriculture, especially students, will have more difficulty in finding summer jobs than last year. In fact this question was raised very recently by the hon. member for Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt).

The decision to go ahead with the off-shore labour program was made in spite of these indications. It was reached only because of the inherent difficulties in forecasting precisely the demand-supply relationship for a relatively small geographic area and for a type of work which is subject to fluctuations caused by climatic conditions.

The minister is very much aware of the dangers involved. If next summer there are Canadians asking for jobs, and not getting them, in the areas where there are West Indian workers under contract, he will be criticized for giving unfair treatment to Canadian labour. On the other hand, if there is a shortage of labour he will be equally criticized.

The conditions under which Canadian farmers can bring in West Indian workers this year are unchanged from last year. These conditions are not arbitrary. They were carefully reviewed with provincial representatives at a recent meeting of the federal-provincial agricultural manpower committee. The committee also reviewed the analysis made by the department of last year's movement, which revealed that the cost-benefit ratio for the West Indian workers compared well with that for domestic labour.

The hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Madill) will certainly agree that it would be irresponsible to relax the conditions even more than they were last year, in view of the

March 18, 1968

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion manpower forecasts and other warnings. These conditions remain the same. The starting and departure dates for these workers are the same as last year. The maximum duration of four months for their stay in Canada was retained in spite of the fact that last year West Indian workers on average stayed here for only eight to 12 weeks. The cost of transportation as distributed between the workers, their governments and the Canadian employers was also left unchanged. Now, I think this is the significant part.

The minimum wage rate as set for 1968 had to be adjusted if we wanted to retain the same conditions as in the last two years. It is based on two separate sets of statistics published by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. In 1966, the first year of the West Indian program, the minimum rate of $1.25 was based on the January 1965 daily wage rate, without board, that Ontario farmers paid their permanent help. This Ontario rate increased by 17.1 per cent in the next years. As a result we had to increase the 1968 rate

for West Indian workers by the same percentage to $1.45.

Only a few days ago the Dominion Bureau of Statistics published more recent data. According to this report Ontario farmers in January 1966, paid their workers $1.25 an hour, which corresponds exactly to the rate we set in that year for West Indian workers. In January of this year the Ontario farmers paid an average $1.44 per hour, which again corresponds closely to the rate we set of $1.45 for West Indian workers for the coming season.

Topic:   IMMIGRATION-ADMISSION OF SEASONAL FARM LABOUR FROM WEST INDIES
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LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. I must advise the minister that the time allotted to him has expired.

Motion agreed to and the house adjourned at 10.22 p.m.

[The following items were passed in Committee of Supply this day:]

Topic:   IMMIGRATION-ADMISSION OF SEASONAL FARM LABOUR FROM WEST INDIES
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DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS


10c, 15c, 35c, L27c. IMr. Mackasey.] March 18, 1968


APPENDIX

COMMUNIQUE AND PRESS RELEASES FOLLOWING MEETING OF CENTRAL BANK GOVERNORS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE


Ottawa, March 17, 1968 68-37 The Honourable Mitchell Sharp, Minister of Finance, tonight welcomed the decisions announced in the communique issued in Washington today by the Governors of the Central Banks contributing to the Gold Pool. He noted the subsequent statement issued by the Governor of the Bank of Canada in which the Governor said the Bank of Canada would cooperate in the policies set forth in that communique, as other Central Banks had been invited to do. The Minister stated that he had assured the Governor of his support of this policy, which would apply to the gold held by the Bank on behalf of the Minister of Finance as part of Canada's official reserves. The co-operation in the policies set forth in the Washington communique will not require any change in the practices that have been followed in the management of Canada's gold reserves, nor any change in the practices followed in the disposition of the output of Canadian gold mines.


DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE


Ottawa, March 17, 1968 68-33 The Honourable Mitchell Sharp, Minister of Finance, tonight made public the text of a telegram he had sent to all banks and to other dealers in gold requesting them to continue until further notice the suspension of trading in gold that was instituted on Friday in response to his request Thursday evening. "In view of the important decisions relating to non-official markets for gold taken in Washington today by the central banks contributing to the gold pool I request that you continue to suspend trading in gold until further notice."


March 18, 1968