November 20, 1969

LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member. I think it was agreed among representatives of the parties that this debate would continue on another day; therefore, I concur in the hope that it might be called ten o'clock.

With regard to the business for the coming week, the first item to be called on Monday will be the Expo Winding-up Act which was reported back to the House today. This will

November 20, 1969

be called on Monday for report and third reading. In the two successive days in that week, perhaps even on Monday as well as on Tuesday and Wednesday, it is the intention to call the three budget bills resulting from the June 3 budget. These will be called in the following order: No. 27, the Customs Act amendment; No. 34, the Excise Tax Act amendment; and No. 26, the Income Tax Act amendment. As I indicated, it is hoped that business will be completed by the adjournment on Wednesday.

On Thursday and Friday of next week we intend to call the motion to refer the white paper on taxation to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs in order to permit the House to debate in general terms the tax proposals contained in the white paper. I hope some time during the course of the week to propose to the House the making of a special order on speech time limits to permit the maximum number of members to participate. As I indicated, I concur with the hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka (Mr. Aiken) in calling it ten o'clock.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

If it is the desire of hon. members, we will now call it ten o'clock and proceed to the adjournment debate. I fear there may be a slight difficulty. On the basis that we would proceed at ten o'clock with the first question on the agenda, the minister who would normally reply to this question is not yet in the House. Normally the minister would be here at ten o'clock. I wonder whether the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) wants to proceed at this time.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Could we not just sit for two or three minutes, Mr. Speaker, and wait for the minister to arrive? There is no law against it.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

I wonder if there is more than one question. We might perhaps juggle the order.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

I believe the second question has been withdrawn. With regard to the third question, the same difficulty arises as with the first. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre says there is nothing in the rules which states we cannot just sit around and say nothing. It may be legal, but it certainly will be very unusual.

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NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Maybe we could sing something.

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 40 deemed to have been moved.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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OLD AGE SECURITY-INQUIRY AS TO AMENDING BILL

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 think we have proven something, namely, that it does not hurt us to sit and meditate for a moment or two. I hope the result will be a favourable answer from the government side. I gather that although we were waiting for the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro), we will hear from his parliamentary secretary instead. My question this evening arises from a question that I asked on Wednesday, November 12, as recorded in Hansard at pages 738 and 739. The entry in Hansard is as follows:

Mr. Speaker, may I direct a question to the Minister of National Health and Welfare. Toward the end of last session there was a list of bills given, many of which were not reached. One of them was a bill to amend the Old Age Security Act. In view of the fact that such a bill was not included in the list of bills that the Prime Minister tabled on the first day of this session, may I ask the minister whether there will be such a bill during the course of this session?

The Minister of National Health and Welfare replied as follows:

It is highly unlikely, Mr. Speaker.

The point of my question and my reason for raising it again tonight is surely quite clear. Toward the end of the last session we were given a list of bills that it was hoped would be dealt with before the first session prorogued. That list included a bill to amend the Old Age Security Act, but we did not reach it. Whenever I see something of that nature, I hope for the best. I hope it means a substantial increase in the pension paid under that legislation. I must say, however, that I knew that was too much to hope for last session.

I understood the purpose of that proposed bill was to deal with certain anomalies in the Old Age Security Act, and I had hoped those anomalies would have been dealt with during the last session. I was therefore quite surprised when the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) on the first day of this new session in tabling a list of bills for us to deal with did

November 20, 1968

1080 COMMONS DEBATES

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion not include that piece of legislation which was tidying-up in its nature. Accordingly, I had hoped that the Minister of National Health and Welfare would have assured me when I asked this question on November 12 that we would at least get this tidying-up business before us in this session.

A number of members have asked questions from time to time which have brought out these anomalies. Of course, the one that hits us the hardest is the fact that there is in the Old Age Security Act a provision to increase the pension each year as the cost of living goes up, but never by more than 2 per cent in any one year even if the cost of living increases by 4 or 5 per cent. That is a major anomaly I wish the government would correct.

[DOT] (10:00 p.m.)

However, I wish to spend these three or four minutes on another anomaly, that is, the provision in the guaranteed income supplement part of the Old Age Security Act which declares that in most cases pensioners get their income supplement based on what their income was last year. There are two exceptions, two instances in which a pensioner can get a supplement for the current year based on his anticipated income for the current year. These are, first, if you retire from employment in the current year, and second, if you change your marital status in the current year. In all other cases it is the income from the previous year that counts.

As a result of this, some serious situations develop. There are people who have allowances of one kind or another-widows who have an allowance from the death of a husband which lasts only four or five years and ends in the middle of the year. The widow finds for that year her income drops because the allowance is stopped, and the next year, when she applies for a full supplement because she has nothing else, she is told it has to be claimed on the basis of her income for the previous year, so she has to wait for a further year before she gets the full amount.

In the same vein there are people who in the course of a year will take a little job and make $40 or $50, in the whole year, just enough to amount to more than should have been made under the terms of the income test. When a person does that, at the end of a year he is penalized twice; he has to make a back payment because he got too much and then, for the next year, he has to apply for a guaranteed income supplement on the basis of the income he got the previous year even if

[Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre) .1

he does not intend to work again. No one denies the double penalty aspect of this. We have had this out on the floor of the House and with the officials of the department. The kindliest answer we have received is that this is one of those anomalies that was not intended and which will have to be straightened out. We have been told several times that some day it would be straightened out.

I was not privy to any secrets in the matter, but I certainly got the impression that this was the kind of thing which would be dealt with in the bill proposed last year to amend the Old Age Security Act. In the meantime, many are suffering because anomalies of this kind have not been straightened out. I hope that even if the government takes longer than it ought in getting around to the larger question of increasing the basic amount of the old age security pension, it will not put off any longer an amending bill to deal with these anomalies which are really quite cruel. I hope the parliamentary secretary will be able to assure us tonight that these matters will be attended to during the course of this session.

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LIB

Stanley Haidasz (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Stanley Haidasz (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare):

First, Mr. Speaker, I should like to assure the hon. member that we all share his concern about matters affecting the welfare of the Canadian people, including our senior citizens.

I have noted his remarks, especially those anomalies which he mentioned. I wish to state that his comments tonight will be brought by myself to the attention of the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro). Although no bill was presented to the house on matters of social welfare at the opening of the present session of Parliament, I am sure the hon. member has noticed in the Speech from the Throne the following paragraph which I shall quote. This can be found at page 2 of Hansard lor October 23, 1969. It states:

Changes in the patterns of need in our society call for a more equitable social policy which will offer assistance and security to people unable to work or to provide for themselves and their families. A white paper on social security will be presented-

This white paper will deal with all matters of welfare including old age security. These measures will be made known through this white paper and, of course, all consequent legislation will be closely related to it. In view of these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I

November 20, 19B9 COMMONS

can only repeat tonight, on behalf of my minister, what he has already stated to the hon. member, that it is highly unlikely a bill to amend the Old Age Security Act will be presented to the House this session.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY-INQUIRY AS TO AMENDING BILL
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POLLUTION-REGULATIONS RESPECTING AUTOMOBILES-INQUIRY AS TO ACTION

NDP

Barry Mather

New Democratic Party

Mr. Barry Mather (Surrey):

Mr. Speaker, the other day I asked what the government was doing in respect of outlawing car exhausts which produce air pollution. I had in mind the situation in the United States where the federal authority has recently settled out of court an action against a car manufacturing company in respect of this very matter. I also had in mind tougher action by New York state, which at this moment is taking a car manufacturing company to court to enforce the New York anti-pollution car exhaust act.

The question I tried to raise was not acceptable during the question period, so I raise it again this evening. With the few moments I have available I want to remind hon. members in the House that until recent years the North American car industry has had practically a free hand in regard to the design of component parts for its products, so far as safety is concerned. To underline the significance of that fact let me state that there are three main ingredients in car accidents: the first is the car, the second is the driver and the third is the road. For years in Canada we have been killing 100 persons a week, wounding 3,000 a week and losing millions of dollars in economic tolls due to car crashes, a great many of which were avoidable. In the last four years, the period in which many of the present members came into the house, no fewer than 20,000 Canadians have been killed, 600,000 have been wounded and billions of dollars have been lost through car accidents.

Air pollution from car exhausts is part of this general problem. My question was, what is the federal government doing to give leadership and co-ordination to provincial authorities to enforce realistic anti-pollution air exhaust legislation? There are enough cars sold in Canada to have a significant effect on the total North American car market. Cars sold in Canada could be fitted with safety features even though Washington fails to act. It is disturbing to note that our new Canadian car safety standards, recently announced with a flourish of car horns, are simply extensions of the standards set in Washington, where the

DEBATES 1081

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion car industry has for many years dragged its feet in respect of public safety.

In the United States the industry's motive is still directed to eye and sales appeal rather than to safety. Car bumpers are actually decorations, a sort of cosmetic rather than a safety feature. A standard bumper height for all cars could save a great many lives and a great many millions of dollars. In conclusion let me repeat my question: What is the law of our land, and what is our federal authority doing to co-ordinate and give leadership to the provinces, which have a great deal of authority in this field, to enforce specific laws regarding air pollution and exhaust standards?

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

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LIB

Gérard Loiselle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Gerard Loiselle (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, I wish at the outset to congratulate the hon. member for Surrey (Mr. Mather) for bringing up this question, especially at this time, since there will be at the Chateau Laurier during the next three days the general annual meeting of the Ottawa district Ontario Motor League. That association concerns itself with all matters related to automobiles and I know the interest and importance the hon. member attaches to such a question.

However, I would not like him to believe that the Canadian government scorns all those good intentions and does not consider any change. As he knows, Bill C-137, entitled an "Act respecting the use of national safety marks in relation to motor vehicles and to provide for safety standards..." was given first reading on November 3.

With regard to safety and air pollution, here is what clause 2(h) of the bill says, and I quote:

"safety standards" means standards regulating the design, construction or functioning of motor vehicles and their components for the purpose of protecting persons against personal injury, impairment of health or death.

If we talk about air pollution, this is an indication that there is an impairment of health and, under this clause of Bill C-137, the minister will have the authority to prosecute those who will not meet the required standards. I urge the hon. members of the opposition to show all their devotion, their goodwill and to offer their suggestions when this bill comes up for second reading in a week or two, and especially when it is sent to the Committee on Transport and communications.

November 20, 1969

1092 COMMONS

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion

Other countries have other standards with regard to noise, for instance. Following the passage of this bill, the minister will be able to make changes in the legislation or to deal severely with those who use motor vehicles which are too noisy because paragraph (h) which deals with the protection of people against personal injury and impairment of health or death, is broad enough to cover these cases. Therefore the minister will be in a position to deal severely with the manufacturers or the owners of exceedingly noisy vehicles.

If this bill is passed this year or early next spring, all the security standards with which it deals, will be imposed with regard to the construction of 1971 model cars.

I think this is a good answer to the question asked a while ago by the hon. member for Surrey about the legal proceedings taken in

the United States against two automobile manufacturers because of air pollution. This clause covers the cases of noise because it deals with impairment of health or death. We can only hope that the hon. member and the members of his group will support the passing of this bill and will propose acceptable amendments in order to improve its contents. Thus, the government will also be in a position to claim that it has its own legislation to regulate the construction of motor vehicles in order to protect the health of our people. Indeed, it will be possible to take legal proceedings against those whose vehicles are the cause of air pollution or personal injuries if the standards set by the law have not been observed.

Motion agreed to and the House adjourned at 10.18 p.m.

Friday, November 21, 1969

Topic:   POLLUTION-REGULATIONS RESPECTING AUTOMOBILES-INQUIRY AS TO ACTION
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November 20, 1969