April 20, 1970

PC
PC

Lloyd Roseville Crouse

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crouse:

Yes, as my hon. friend says, like Long Harbour. There was an instance of pollution which has destroyed the ecology of the area. Although efforts have been made to restore the fisheries, those of us who are familiar with the fisheries and have had a long time association with the fisheries know that it will be many years before we have fully recovered from the effects of the pollution of Long Harbour, Newfoundland.

We must be realistic about pollution. Let us be realistic about its effects on our environment. I ask the members of this House to think about the problem. Let us ask ourselves: Who are the main polluters in this nation? The answer, of course, Mr. Speaker, is you and I collectively, under a term called the "municipality". Our municipalities, with their sewage and garbage disposal problems, have been the greatest polluters of our rivers, lakes and streams. Especially is this so when cities and towns are located quite close to any given body of water. How do you propose to force the municipalities to act under this legislation. And if they do not act because of a shortage of funds, who are you going to fine-the mayor, the town clerk, the chief of police or the garbage collector? I suppose it would be the latter, since he is more closely associated with pollution!

[DOT] (3:50 p.m.)

But, Mr. Speaker, this is a serious matter, since all municipalities located on water bodies are constantly pouring phosphates into the waters. We are now saying, under a troika of authority, that the polluter must pay. Since the government has intentionally divided our pollution control authority, I believe that the enforcement of the clauses of this bill will be extremely difficult. The answer, of course, lies in a common sense approach to this problem. There is one minis-

ter on that side of the House, the Minister of Fisheries, who has a solution for the control of our pollution difficulties, but unfortunately he apparently lacks the required support of his colleagues on this important matter.

I say that the Minister of Fisheries has a solution to our pollution control problems because he expressed certain views in his speech entitled "Pollution and the Fisheries Act" as delivered before the Rotary Club of Hamilton on Thursday, May 22, 1969. In that speech, which indicates considerable research, the minister pointed out the manner in which the federal Fisheries Act could be used to bring pollution under control. He was talking, of course, entirely about pollution in water where fish react to poisonous substances. To use his words, they go belly up before human beings take sick, so strict laws protecting our fisheries should be our first line of defence against pollution and our first line of defence of human health and welfare as well. I endorse the minister's remarks because salmon will refuse to swim in water before we humans refuse to drink it. When we see fish dying in rivers and lakes, the waters of which are being utilized as sources of supplies for cities or towns, it would be wise for the authorities to examine the quality of that water to determine what has happened to it.

After describing our water problem, and after pointing out that it is quality and not quantity which we require for our well being, the minister stated, and I quote now directly from his speech:

We in Canada are fortunate. We are fortunate in that we have a clear cut avenue for federal participation in the battle against pollution. We are fortunate in that we have an effective tool in the Fisheries Act. The Fisheries Act, as it happens, is nearly as old as Confederation itself.

He repeated some of those words today in his speech. He went on to state:

It pre-dates most provinces-and it certainly predates provincial legislation with respect to water quality and pollution control.

Most provincial legislation has been framed with our federal Fisheries Act in mind. Our provincial acts, in other words, surround the federal Fisheries Act, embroidering it so to speak. But provincial laws and provincial regulations must take second place to the Fisheries Act in any case-for fisheries are federal under our constitution.

The minister continued by stating that we are fortunate as compared to the United States, where fishery matters come under the individual states. This makes it more difficult for Washington to co-ordinate activities since their authority is limited to international treaties and the like. He pointed out that in

April 20, 1970

this country, Ottawa has full authority over our sea coast and inland fisheries. Under the British North America Act, Ottawa makes our fishery laws and it approves our fishery regulations. True, Ottawa has delegated some of its authority to the provinces at times, but if these provinces want to make a change in any of their regulations they must first submit it to the federal government for approval.

Having said this, the Minister of Fisheries then got down to the nitty-gritty of our problem when he said, and again I am quoting:

We must deal with pollution before pollution occurs. We must get into the act before new plants are built; when they are in the design stage so, to speak. We must insist on the best manufacturing techniques and the best devices for eliminating poisons and making sure that eutroplication is a thing of the past. Our federal Fisheries Act, in other words must be updated. It must include a few clauses which are essentially anticipatory in nature. It must not only say what kind of chemicals can and which cannot be discharged into Canadian waters but see to it that our municipalities and our industries are aware of these guidelines ahead of time.

The minister continued as follows:

With a new and amended Fisheries Act, we will no longer have to wait until the damage is done to our environment. We will no longer have to discipline maverick companies which themselves have failed to look ahead and to plan for the future. We will no longer have to plead with municipalities to do the right thing for themselves and their citizens.

The minister said he liked this approach, and quite frankly so do I because it is simple and relatively straightforward. In his words, and I am now quoting him:

We already have a fisheries department and we already have a fisheries staff in the provinces. So, we can use our existing establishment to do a job on pollution-to do it quickly and to do it well.

In summing up, the Minister of Fisheries said:

In the Fisheries Act we have a one hundred year old piece of federal legislation which with a few simple improvements can be used to reduce pollution in all the waters of Canada. In our Department of Fisheries in Ottawa and out in our regional offices we already have all of the officers we need in order to police pollution in this country.

These statements made by the Minister of Fisheries are not broad generalities; they are blunt, they are definite and they are to the point. According to the Minister of Fisheries, the Fisheries Act, which we are presently amending, is all that is required to reduce, control and police pollution in all the waters of Canada. This is a viewpoint with which I 22218-37

Fisheries Act

agree so I cannot help but ask, in view of these facts why was the authority to control pollution in Canada intentionally fragmented by this government? Why did this government intentionally go out of its way to set up an expensive bureaucracy for the control of water pollution, when the Fisheries department has all the officers required to police pollution? Why all these new and obviously unnecessary expenditures while the government implies it is practicing thrift and cutting down on expenses? This is nothing but doubletalk. Only last Friday in this House of Commons the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) asked the opposition for suggestions on how to cut down government expenditures. As you will recall, he received some suggestions immediately from the opposition. It was suggested that he cut down his personal staff, and it was suggested that he cut out Information Canada.

It is now obvious from the statements made by the Minister of Fisheries that we do not need the Canada Water Act, and its expensive bureaucratic water authority, or the Northern Inland Waters Act. The immediate withdrawal of these measures would not reduce by one iota our fight against pollution in this country. It would save some of the hard-earned dollars of the tax payers. I hope the government will give this suggestion some thought. I hope the government will give the Minister of Fisheries more power under this Fisheries Act so that our industries and our municipalities will know where they stand on this serious problem of pollution. We need guidelines under one department which are well understood and well administered. We need guidelines which are enforceable, and which are enforced from one end of Canada to the other, if we are to surmount this new difficulty which is troubling Canadians and all mankind. In my view the federal Minister of Fisheries should have complete responsibility for the enforcement of pollution control in Canada, using as a vehicle the federal Fisheries Act.

There are other provisions in the Fisheries Act amendments which relate to the conservation of marine plants. With the development of the science of marine biology, these plants are becoming more and more valuable commercially, and they provide an additional source of livelihood for many Canadians. I believe the changes proposed represent good conservation practice, and we are fully in agreement with these measures.

April 20, 1970

Fisheries Act

Finally, the bill deals with fishing operations on the east coast, and it corrects an anomaly which has existed off the coast of Newfoundland ever since that province threw in its lot with the rest of Canada. Here, I refer to the fact that deep sea trawlers operating off the coast of Atlantic Canada, other than Newfoundland, were required to refrain from fishing operations umil they were 12 miles from our shores, while deep sea Newfoundland trawlers could start trawler operations three miles from the coast. In other words, all our east coast fishermen are equal but some are more equal than others.

[DOT] (4:00 p.m.)

Under the changes proposed, which I agree bring uniformity to our regulations, all our deep sea fishermen in Atlantic Canada will now be treated alike. I only hope that day will not be too far distant when the 12-mile limit will apply not only to Canadians, who practice it as a conservation measure, but to the eight other countries, namely Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States, who historically and traditionally have fished within three miles of our coastline and whose operations, as of today, have not been phased out by the government. All our new regulations, and all our talk about conservation of our fisheries resources, become meaningless unless other nations such as those I have mentioned are willing to co-operate and practice conservation policies similar to those imposed upon our own nationals.

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
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NDP

Thomas Speakman Barnett

New Democratic Party

Mr. Barnett:

Mr. Speaker, as the minister said when he moved second reading of this bill, it does propose some very extensive changes to our Fisheries Act. I would think it is probably the most extensive revision of the act which has taken place since 1932 and, perhaps in some ways, the bill proposes the most important change in some of its basic principles since the act was introduced in the first Parliament of Canada, as the minister said. Many of the changes, of course, just repeal some of the archaic sections of the act. So far as I have been able to study the bill, I have no quarrel with what is being done in this regard. There are certain other changes, such as those mentioned by the hon. member for South Shore (Mr. Crouse), in respect of the application of the Fisheries Act on the Atlantic coast which, so far as I am concerned, are logical changes at this time.

I believe, however, there are two really important changes proposed in this bill, and I

intend to confine my discussion at the second reading stage to these two particular aspects. The first, and perhaps least important of the two, has to do with the introduction into the Fisheries Act of specific sections in respect of jurisdiction over marine plants. These are now to be under the purview of the act and the department. Although as I believe the minister pointed out, and I well recognize, to some extent marine plants have been controlled and regulations have been applied by the department. I believe this is certainly a very interesting clause of the bill and one which indicates a recognition of the potential importance of marine plants in the industrial and commercial life of Canada. For this reason, I welcome the proposed sections which will enable proper regulation and control over the volume and method of harvesting of marine plants.

Undoubtedly, without some form of careful management some of these marine plant resources which potentially are of economic benefit to our fishermen would be depleted, and in fact mined instead of harvested. This has happened from time to time in respect of some particular species of our fish. I know that in the area of the Pacific coast with which I am familiar, there is at the present time an effort being made to promote the commercial harvesting of kelp. This is a very interesting form of plant life. I had the opportunity of discussing this particular venture with the people who are endeavouring to pioneer it. Although I do not think it will ever develop into one of British Columbia's major industries, I believe this is a very significant development and my interest is heightened by the fact that the act is being amended in this regard.

I wish to commend the minister for bringing in these proposals in respect of placing marine plants under the jurisdiction of the act. I readily understand this can be important in respect of another aspect. I commend the minister for introducing control over the algae and other marine plants, even though they may not be harvested commercially, because this is important in relation to the ecology of the waters of Canada, both inland and on our coasts.

The other major clauses of the bill to which the minister referred most extensively, as indeed did the hon. member for South Shore, have to do with the changes proposed in respect of the control of pollution. The pres-

April 20, 1970

ent section 33 of the act which governs pollution of the waters is very extensively revised under the minister's proposal. I should like to say I welcome certain aspects of the approach the minister has taken, as indicated by the provisions of this bill.

I welcome the fact that the approach being proposed, particularly with regard to the additions to section 33, is one of positive control rather than of negative control. In other words, as the minister has suggested a number of times, the Fisheries Act should not be a weapon to be used against people but should be a mode through which the authority of the department can work positively with industry to ensure that our waters are protected. To that extent, I feel the proposals are a step in the right direction. I feel that these particular additions to section 33 can be welcomed by all members of the House and fully supported.

However, when we consider the proposed changes to the present section 33, I feel we move into an area in which we may find we do not see eye to eye entirely with the minister's proposals. The minister quoted section 33, and I should like to quote it again. I refer to the part having to do with protection of our waters from pollution. It reads:

No person shall cause or knowingly permit to pass into, or put or knowingly permit to be put, lime, chemical substances or drugs, poisonous matter, dead or decaying fish, or remnants thereof, mill rubbish or sawdust or any other deleterious substance or thing, whether the same is of a like character to the substances named in this section or not, in any water frequented by fish, or that flows into such water, nor on ice over either such waters.

Well, in view of some of the statements the minister has been making across the country,

I expected there would be some rephrasing of the rather archaic wording in that particular section of the current Fisheries Act. The proposal which he has brought forward, while it may be couched in more modern words, is a move to weaken the authority and power of the Fisheries Act rather than, as the minister attempted to suggest to us in his introductory speech, a move to strengthen the act.

[DOT] (4:10 p.m.)

Perhaps, as the minister suggests, the wording may clarify the act, but I submit that as matters stand before us at the moment in this Parliament what the minister is proposing to us will weaken the jurisdiction of the Fisheries Act, and the power of the minister to take effective measures to prevent the growth of the pollution of the waters of Canada. I would 22218-37*

Fisheries Act

like to outline my reasons for having this feeling after having made this analysis of the minister's bill. In order to do so, I should compare the present section with the proposal in the bill. I am going to quote only part of it at the moment, but I think it is the parallel part;

-no person shall deposit or permit the deposit of waste of any type in any water frequented by fish or in any place under any conditions where such waste or any other waste that results from the deposit of such waste may enter any such water.

Then, Mr. Speaker, further on in that same clause is a proposed definition of the word "waste":

"waste" means (i) any substance that, if added to any waters, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation of alteration of the quality of those waters to an extent that is detrimental to their use by man or by any animal, fish or plant that is useful to man, and

(ii) any water that contains a substance in such a quantity or concentration, or that has been so treated, processed or changed, by heat or other means, from a natural state that it would, if added to any waters, degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of those waters to an extent that is detrimental to their use by man or by any animal, fish or plant that is useful to man-

If one compares those two wordings, one cannot but agree that the wording proposed in the bill is much more modern, is clearer, and is broader in its context. Certainly, in the light of the kind of industrial society in which we live, this bill contains a much more adequate definition of waste and provisions for the control of its disposal than section 33(2) of the present Fisheries Act. But, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that there is a joker in here, and this is the point that concerns me. When one looks at it, the whole value of the definition as it is set forth is contingent upon what is done in another act, or, I should say, what is now contained in another bill that is before this Parliament. I say this because all of what is in the proposed bill in respect of the Fisheries Act, in the definition of waste and in the powers of the minister to control waste that may be harmful to fish going into waters, is subject to the Canada Water Act.

The initial prohibition of persons putting or depositing waste fo any type into water is subject to subsection (4) of the bill, which in turn makes it clear that it is subject to the provisions of the Canada Water Act and to the conditions:

-authorized by regulations made by the Governor in Council under paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section 16 of that Act-

April 20, 1970

Fisheries Act

When one considers the question of waste as it is defined in the clause of the bill, after the part which I read defining waste, the following words appear:

-without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes anything that, for the purposes of the Canada Water Act, is deemed to be waste;-

So, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that if we are to understand the meaning and the purport of the bill that the Minister of Fisheries is presenting we must inevitably have a look at what is said in clause 16 of the Canada water bill. Clause 16(1) of that bill reads:

(1) The Governor in Council may make regulations (a) prescribing

(i) substances and classes of substances,

(ii) quantities or concentrations of substances and classes of substances in water, and

(iii) treatments, processes and changes of water for the purpose of subsection (2) of section 2-

This all sounds very complicated until one refers to clause 2 of the Canada water bill. So, Mr. Speaker, we find ourselves in a bit of a maze. I think it should be pointed out that we now have before this Parliament four bills, if my count is correct, in which the precise wording of the definition of "waste" appears.

We have before this Parliament Bill C-144, the Canada Water Act bill, Bill C-187 the Northern Inland Waters Act bill, Bill C-202 the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act bill, and this bill, C-204, to amend the Fisheries Act. But all of these bills, all of what they mean or what they do not mean, depends upon the acts that may or may not be taken in the future by the Governor in Council under clause 16 of the Canada Water Act bill.

In other words, until we know what the government has in mind in the shape of regulations prescribing substances and classes of substances, and quantities and concentrations, and treatments and processes, we in this House have no way of knowing whether or not we are being asked to throw down the drain the whole impact of the Fisheries Act so far as protection of the quality of our waters, for the well being of our fish, is concerned.

The minister may say, "Tut, tut; you know this government isn't that bad." But, Mr. Speaker, I suggest it is not fair to ask the House to buy a pig in a poke. Some of us who have had some association with the administration of the Department of Fisheries for a period of years have some respect for the approach taken by the conservation and development branch of the department, with the

backing of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada. I think it is fair to say that over the years they have been really the only cohesive body in Canada which has been concerned with the quality of Canadian water from coast to coast and off the coasts of Canada.

In his speech, the minister paid considerable tribute to the department which he heads at the present time. I certainly concur with many of his sentiments in that respect. In fact, in some respects I would be prepared to go further than the minister did, because I think, under unfortunate circumstances, the department which the minister currently heads has been doing a magnificent job in trying to protect, develop and conserve the fisheries resources of Canada and, because of that, has been attempting to conserve the quality of the waters of Canada. It has been an uphill fight and they have lost a good many battles, Mr. Speaker, largely through the indifference and neglect of succeeding governments and, I suppose, of succeeding Parliaments of Canada, and in the last analysis, because of the indifference and neglect of most of the Canadian people over a long period of years.

[DOT] (4:20 p.m.)

However, there is evidence of greater interest now in the quality of our waters than there has ever been in any previous Parliament, as exemplified by the number of bills before us dealing with the subject. But are we just going through the motions, Mr. Speaker; are we just engaged in a song and dance about the desirability of preserving our waters? This is a question in the minds of many members of the House and many Canadian people. I ask members not to discard the existing power that resides in the Fisheries Act until there is something better to replace it. So far, there has been no tangible evidence of this. Various bills propose to set up elaborate and complex administrative machinery. Most of us will agree that some of it is necessary and this view was expressed in this House in respect of the bill to deal with the pollution of Arctic waters. One of the ideas expressed in the Canada water bill, namely the management of watersheds on a countrywide basis, is a sound idea.

In all of these bills, Mr. Speaker, Parliament is being asked to move forward blindly without the assurance that they really mean anything when it comes to controlling or preventing the pollution of our waters. I, for one, am not prepared to agree to the passage of

April 20, 1970

this bill until I have had some enlightenment on what I consider to be the crux of the matter. Some people believe we have too many bills already but I think we need another bill, which would take precedence over any of these now before us, having to do with the question of water quality, a bill which would enable us to know exactly what we are being asked to pass in this bill. I have a picture in my mind of an act to provide for the establishment of a pollution standards code which would authorize the Governor in Council to enact regulations proscribing classes of substances, and processes, and changes of water. This would be the control bill, as it were, which would give meaning to all these other bills, in particular the proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act.

In this way, we could intelligently discuss and assess the change to section 33 of the Fisheries Act, which the minister has brought before us. We could then also agree with the other clauses of the bill which give him the authority to regulate in advance the submission of plans, and to require alteration of plans etc. In any event, the design of new industrial plants should be analyzed by technically qualified officials of the fisheries research board, not by some other department, as this would reduce the authority of the minister to protect, develop and conserve the fisheries of Canada. We must take care that the proposed amendments are not allowed to downgrade the powers of the Fisheries Act.

The idea of a pollution standards code is not new, Mr. Speaker. In November, 1966, I made a speech in this House reporting on the conference on pollution and our environment held in Montreal earlier that year. At that time, I summarized and quoted from some of the guidelines produced by the conference touching upon three fields, air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution. The guideline suggested for air pollution was that a single federal agency or organization be established to set up a national pollution abatement code and the details of how this might operate were given.

Under the heading of water pollution, the guideline was that a single federal organization or agency should be established to develop a national pollution abatement code. The guideline on soil pollution recommended that a single inter-disciplinary national agency on environmental contamination be established with broad responsibility in the general areas of, among other things, developing national standards.

Fisheries Act

I felt that these guidelines were most encouraging, Mr. Speaker, and I summarized the situation in my speech reported at page 10021 of Hansard for November 17, 1966, as follows:

-there was general agreement which certainly confirmed the view I have held for quite some time, that the only way in which this whole problem can be really attacked in a proper manner is if we in this Parliament, through the federal government, exercise real leadership and guidance. Only when we can develop a national code and national standards based upon active and continuing research, so that the standards can be continually upgraded as new science and technology are developed, can we make continuing progress in this field.

[DOT] (4:30 p.m.)

Apparently the government has rejected that approach, Mr. Speaker, and now this House is being asked to diminish the authority which currently exists in the Fisheries Act of Canada. I sometimes look at sections 91 and 92 of the British North America Act which have to do with the distribution of legislative powers between Parliament and the legislative assemblies of the provinces, and it seems to me, without attempting to pose in any way as a constitutional authority, that when we start talking today about pollution and the control of pollution of our air, water and soil, we are really dealing with an area covered by the preamble to section 91, which reads:

It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with, the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces;-

I think we recognize, and many thoughtful and knowledgeable scientists have been suggesting this to us, that we are engaged in a process of total war against pollution. The question of our managing our environment in such a way as to protect its quality for living creatures on land, in the sea, and I suppose in this day and age one can include creatures in the air, has reached the proportions of total war. It has reached the stage of being important in considerations relating to peace, order and good government, and is as important as the question of whether or not we can prevent a thermo-nuclear holocaust from breaking out. Although some of the statements attributed today to scientists may make us feel that they are being alarmists, nevertheless we in this parliament would be foolish to ignore the kinds of warnings we are being given from time to time. It is in this context,

April 20, 1970

Fisheries Act

and with this sense of urgency, that I feel the federal government ought to be approaching the question before us now.

1 feel that this assertion of the concern of this Parliament could best be expressed not by the piecemeal bits of legislation introduced to control this or that aspect of pollution, but by a general act which would spell out the principles relating to the preservation of our environment which this Parliament feels should be adopted. This general act would give authority to the Governor in Council to set out quality standards as they would apply to any form of development across the country. If we had such an act we could assess, on the basis of its criteria, whether a particular idea for managing all water resources in a certain region of the country was desirable or not. We could assess, if we knew what those regulations were, whether it would be desirable to bring the operation of various acts under particular definitions that would be set out in those regulations.

I quoted from my own speech and may I now briefly refer to one which was made by someone else. I am referring to a release from the Department of Fisheries and Forestry of Canada under the date of January 15, 1970. The first page has a synopsis of the minister's speech at the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon of January 5, 1970. The first item of the synopsis indicates that the minister believes a national water quality code is essential. I must say that I agree with the minister. Then, the release tells one to see page 4 of the speech. I always become interested in the fine print when I see headings like that. On page 4, I read that the minister believes we need a national water quality code. He also says that we need regional guidelines drawn to meet regional needs. Well, Mr. Speaker, what we have before us are proposals to develop some regional guidelines to meet regional needs; but we are building a body, as it were, without any head. I agree with the minister when he says that we need a national water quality code.

Yet the minister who believes in the need for a national water quality code and who now has in his hands legislation, which although poorly drafted for present purposes nevertheless gives authority to put forward a national water quality code, is apparently voluntarily asking this House to approve his surrendering the authority to develop a national water quality code. This, to me, is a pretty basic flaw in the proposal the minister

is putting before the House and I for one do not find myself inclined to accept. I hope that before we proceed too far with this bill we can get some indication, if not from the minister then at least from the government, as to whether and when it is intended to bring to a head, as it were, this question of establishing national standards, not only in the field of the control of the purity of our water but in the fields relating to the control of the purity of our air and soil. I think the minister will agree that all these things are interrelated directly and indirectly. He knows, for example, that in the design of a pulp and paper mill the two questions of water purity and air purity are very much interrelated. In some cases, of course, it is possible to improve the quality of water discharged from a plant by increasing the quantity of pollution that is going out in the air, and vice versa.

This is the assessment I make of what I think is undoubtedly the key proposal in this bill. I have tried to assess it on its merits as I see them. I think that in many respects, as I have said, it represents an improvement over the present act but it has what I fear, Mr. Speaker, could very well turn out to be a fatal error, one which would downgrade the effectiveness of the kind of work that has been done by our various fisheries scientists over the years. Far from increasing their influence in the councils of the nation, it might very well relegate them to a corner where their efforts would be even less effective than they have been up to the present time. These are the considerations which I submit should certainly be uppermost in the minds of hon. members of the House in discussing the merits of the bill. I hope, perhaps before the bill proceeds much further on its way, that we can obtain some agreement that some arguments I have advanced have validity. Then, either through this bill or some other way, the general approach being taken to the control of water pollution in Canada by the government may be changed and improved.

[DOT] (4:40 p.m.)

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. James A. McGrath (St. John's East):

Mr. Speaker, having listened to the minister's speech, it now seems evident that we will have to wait until we get this bill before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Forestry before we can have the amendments proposed in it explained in detail, indeed before we can have some of our fears hopefully put to rest.

April 20, 1970

My colleague, the hon. member for South Shore (Mr. Crouse), referred very eloquently and impressively to the proliferation of pollution legislation either now before Parliament or pending. This fact was also alluded to by the hon. member who just resumed his seat. I am convinced, Mr. Speaker, that the buckpassing has to stop somewhere. Someone must have the ultimate responsibility for the control of the pollution and cleaning up the waters of our country that have been polluted as a consequence of neglect.

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

In addition to listening to the minister's speech today, I have read some of his speeches in recent weeks, particularly his speech on April 8 to the Executive Council of the Canadian Manufacturers Association. I have formed the impression that the minister is fighting a losing battle within the cabinet. I think the minister fully appreciates the fact that if he is to do the job of Minister of Fisheries, he must have the legislative authority to control water pollution in all aspects. This has been said before. My colleague, the hon. member for South Shore, said it today. I said it during the second reading stage of the Canada water bill. It has also been said by other hon. members. The Canada Water Act is not necessary. It is window dressing. It should be withdrawn. If we need further proof of that, we need only read some of the speeches of the Minister of Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. Davis) and, indeed the legislation now before us, the amendment to the Fisheries Act. The minister knows this, but I do not think he has been able to sell the idea to his colleagues.

In addition to the Canada Water Act, we have a still further proliferation of the laws of our country respecting pollution. The Northern Inland Waters Act is now before Parliament. There is proposed legislation dealing with pollution of the high seas which presumably flows from the Brussels Conference on Pollution of the High Seas which took place last year. In the final analysis, the ultimate responsibility must rest with the Minister of Fisheries.

It will be most unfortunate if there is a dilution of government authority because as a consequence of this dilution no minister, including the Minister of Fisheries, will be able to deal effectively with pollution. The government should recognize this and withdraw the Canada Water Act. The government should immediately enter into negotiations or

Fisheries Act

discussions with the United States government aimed at entering into some agreement with that country. Without such an agreement with the United States, no matter what we do, we will not have the ultimate control necessary in this country to keep our own environment clean. That is a simple fact of life. It is a fact of geography.

At the present time there is legislation before the United States Congress, similar in many aspects to the legislation before this House, aimed at dealing with water pollution in that country. I doubt if our government is even aware of the debates that are taking place in that country. There should be a meeting of minds. In my opinion, there should be a continuing committee representing the responsible ministers of both cabinets which would have the responsibility of at least keeping each other informed of our various laws and regulations dealing with pollution. Such a joint cabinet committee could be the forerunner of what has to be the ultimate solution in the continental fight against pollution, a treaty between our two countries.

There are two aspects of pollution that the minister alluded to which are of great concern. I wish to deal with the threat to our fishing resources posed by oil pollution. Oil pollution manifests itself in a number of ways. There is continuous pollution caused by tankers dumping their ballast on the high seas beyond the reach and control of any government. How this is to be controlled is one of the great problems facing the world today, especially when we consider that over half the tonnage of the ocean cargoes of the world is composed of oil. Giant tankers are being added to the tanker fleets of the world every day. If an accident were to occur to one of these fully loaded giant tankers, it would represent nothing short of a world crisis.

The second aspect of the oil pollution problem is the possibility that any day there may be success in the explorations that are taking place and oil will be tapped on the continental shelf. The consequence of an accidental spill from one of these offshore wells could be disastrous. We must consider the resources of our Grand Banks. We saw what happened with the Santa Barbara spill off the coast of California and with the spill that occurred a short time ago off the coast of Louisiana. The time has come for us to make some hard and fast decisions. If I had the responsibility of choosing between the oil industry on our continental shelf or the fishing resources of the Grand Banks, I would opt for the latter.

Fisheries Act

April 20, 1970

[DOT] (4:50 p.m.)

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

Many people in the world today are coming round to this way of thinking. The world is desperately in need of protein-the type of protein we have in abundance in our Atlantic and Pacific fisheries. There are strong suggestions that because of the necessity of cleaning up the air of our cities, leading to efforts to replace the internal combustion engine, the world demand for oil may decrease. But the population expansion ensures that world demand for protein will continue. So, we have some decisions to make.

I believe the government should adopt a policy now, before it is too late, of refusing to countenance drilling for oil on the continental shelf of this country such as would impose a threat to the fishing resources of the Grand Banks. I believe the time has come for us to make this decision. I believe the world will applaud such a decision.

This is one aspect of the legislation now before the House which gives me some encouragement. At least the minister will in future have legislative authority to take the steps I have indicated to prevent this kind of pollution from taking place, provided he can get his colleagues in the cabinet to agree. We know from experience that if drilling for oil proceeds on the continental shelf off the Atlantic coast there will be accidental spills, and if these spills occur, the only effective method found to date of clearing up the oil is by using straw. In other words, straw is used to soak up the oil after it has floated ashore on our beaches, after it has destroyed untold quantities of plankton and other minute forms of sea life on which our groundfish depend. We know enough about the consequences of oil pollution to be in a position to make this decision. The minister was very quick to reach a decision in connection with the Georgia Straits incident in British Columbia. He had our support when he did so. I do not think the government can any longer refrain from making the inevitable decision with respect to the continental shelf off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The great oil companies of the world have been pouring millions of dollars into prospecting for oil for the past several years; they know that eventually they will strike oil. A decision will have to be made.

In addition to the danger of oil spills which would result from drilling for oil on the con-[Mr. McGrath.1

tinental shelf, another hazard faces us in the form of a huge 100,000 barrel refinery which is to be built in Placentia Bay in the little village of Come-By-Chance. This is the bay which suffered so greatly from the effects of the phosphorous pollution, a consequence of the government's inability to prevent such pollution occurring. Anyone who knew anything about the operation of a phosphorous reduction plant in such a location knew that pollution was bound to occur. The area affected is only now getting over this setback; we are only now beginning to restore the damage done to our image in the eyes of the world, especially in the markets of the United States.

I look forward to asking the minister, when we are in committee, what steps he proposes to take with the authority Parliament is giving to him under this measure to ensure that there will be no repetition of what took place at Long Harbour when this 100,000 barrel refinery goes into production. What will happen when the petro-chemical industry which is supposed to follow the building of the refinery begins its operations? Oil refineries and petro-chemical plants are among the most serious polluters of coastal waters.

I am not at all satisfied that the government has taken the necessary precautions in this case. The promoters of this industrial complex have been hard at it for a number of years and have made no secret of the fact that they have every reason to expect their efforts to materialize. The refinery is to be built, we understand, in an extremely sensitive area as far as the fishing resources of the Grand Banks are concerned; there are also, of course, the resources of Placentia Bay itself to be considered.

I see it is five o'clock, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   B048 COMMONS DEBATES
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION

SUBJECT MATTER OF QUESTIONS TO BE DEBATED

LIB

Albert Béchard (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bechard):

It is my

duty, pursuant to Standing Order 40, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of the adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Skoberg)-Housing-suspension of C.M.H.C. loans in larger cities; the hon. member for Hillsborough (Mr. Macquarrie)- Historic Sites.-acquisition of residence of Sir Robert Borden.

April 20, 1970 COMMONS

It being five o'clock, the House will now proceed to the consideration of the private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper, namely, Notices of Motion, Public Bills.

e (5:00 p.m.)

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   SUBJECT MATTER OF QUESTIONS TO BE DEBATED
Permalink

PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS

THE CANADIAN ECONOMY

RA

Roland Godin

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Roland Godin (Portneuf) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the possibility of passing a law under which every Canadian citizen, who is without work or other source of income, would receive a guaranteed minimum income as a way of recognizing, in a special fashion, the dignity, the value and the economic rights of the human being, in the context of the economic life of the nation, that the amount required for the payment of the guaranteed minimum income be derived from the national product so as to increase neither the taxes on individuals and companies, nor the cost of living, nor the price of any product or service; that this measure could, with advantage, replace the contributions and payments of all the systems of unemployed insurance, social welfare, family and personal allowances, Canada Pensions and Quebec Pensions, that the economic recognition of the guaranteed minimum income would be to the greatest advantage of all the citizens of Canada, and, at the same time, would be of great benefit to all the principal sectors of the national economy.

He said: Mr. Speaker, about this notice of motion which I put on the order paper on October 28, 1969, I take it as my responsibility to express my views because this concerns the fate of two thirds of the Canadian people without income.

Since first we heard the promises of the government, especially those of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), about the establishment of a just society, we can wonder when will come the measures which were to follow.

We have been told about various bills on tax reform, but we must admit that Parliament has not done anything to help the majority of Canadians.

Royal commissions have been created and they have submitted their reports, pointing out to us structural and regional disparities. Some reports also dealt with periodic fluctuations and even recommended the retraining of some workers. But those recommendations all reflect the influence of a clique.

While computers do the work of accountants and office clerks, and machines replace 22218-38

Guaranteed Minimum Income workers, unfortunately there are still dreamers within the Canadian administration who keep the possibility of a full-employment policy alive.

While financing costs and taxes of all kinds increase the prices of goods and services that are essential to our survival, those who are responsible for those increases are talking about a plan to ensure a reasonable price stabilization. To distract the people from the real conditions, even economists contradict themselves publicly about the causes of poverty in a prosperous society.

If we consider that the Canadian citizens are always caught between a heavy production on the one hand and a low purchasing power on the other, it is obvious that a slight change must be made in the distribution of the purchasing power in the specific areas where it is lacking, that is among the Canadian citizens who do not have a sufficient income.

We feel that the guarantee of a national dividend which would cover the essential needs, food, clothing and housing, is perfectly workable today, due to the present conditions of Canadian production.

Thanks to the advent of automation and cybernetics as well as the application of new production techniques, we consider that the productive labour of mankind is becoming increasingly useless and is replaced by equipment in plants which are increasingly automated.

In an open letter to President Johnson, American economists and sociologists stated that the first condition to be fulfilled in order to prevent economic and social disorder in the present state of production, which eliminates human labor without succeeding in reemploying the worker to good advantage, is simply to ensure to each individual and to each family a minimum guaranteed income as a basic right.

Even though wages and salaries might bring sufficient income to all of the 8,500,000 Canadian citizens actively engaged in production, there remains an unbalance due to the other 13,000,000 Canadians without income. This is the gap which must be filled without however taxing those who get an income from work or from personal wealth. The only thing necessary is therefore to determine a set and guaranteed minimum for the 13,000,000 Canadians who are too young, too old, sick, crippled, blind or unemployed, who are all entitled to it.

April 20, 1970

Guaranteed Minimum Income

In fact, if the father works he receives the salary of a single man. To my mind, society cannot expect him to support five or six people on one salary which is barely sufficient for a single person. That is why a guaranteed minimum must be provided for the mother and each of her children.

The Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals have never taken the family into account in their tax legislation. A table, published at page 1534 of Hansard, on June 14, 1967, makes a comparison between a single person and a man with a wife and three children as dependents, both earning an annual salary of $4,200. After paying his income tax and while taking advantage of his basic exemptions, this father has $515 left to support his family. That is $125 per person per year, $10.50 per month or 30 cents per day. That is what our present tax system leaves to the taxpayer. One can imagine the small amount left to the mother of a large family. Thirty cents per day for the mother, the most important person in our society, when our national production will reach $80 billion in 1970. Those figures show that the situation is abnormal.

In my opinion, the first move was to bring in a notice of motion in order to draw the attention of the House to this situation through proper parliamentary action. Social Credit has always advocated a philosophy and economic reforms promoting the well-being of the individual and the family in the monetary, economic and financial fields, and thus more personal, family and social freedom. With money in his pockets or in the bank, a man can speak the language he wants or go to the school of his choice.

While all the millionaires, the scientists, the chairmen of large banks and companies, the leaders or ministers of the old political parties are defending the interests of high finance, while all the unions are seeking higher salaries for the workers, nobody is doing anything for the unemployed who have a right to live. In fact, Social Credit is the only one to talk about that.

In this country, 5 per cent of the population are made up of people with personal income, 35 per cent earn salaries, 60 per cent are unemployed and depend on a producing citizen or on society in general. Here are the facts; here is the present situation in the Canadian society.

The Canadian government does not produce anything but it administers everything. It is the people who produce everything, even

their ministers and members of Parliament. It is up to the people to say to their ministers and representatives how production should be distributed for the good of the whole population and not only for the good of capitalists.

The production of goods and services is excellent but purchasing power is lacking to buy this production. Purchasing power, it is money. Money is very badly distributed. Some have too much, others not enough. Inflation for some, deflation for the others. All the while discussions take place throughout the country about the sharing of taxes between the federal, provincial and perhaps even municipal governments, the poor distribution of money between families is forgotten.

When the government levies taxes, it is to distribute the sum total of this revenue in salaries, interests and administrative costs. Thus, taxes that have been drawn from the people are deemed to return to the people. If the national production is made up of the work of eight million citizens, isolated or associated, I think it should benefit all Canadians, including the thirteen million who are unemployed, but who also have the right to live in our society.

All the Social Credit philosophy based on the needs of the individual in the family, is there and it enables us to claim, even in the present system, a guaranteed minimum income for all.

[DOT] (5:10 p.m.)

The purpose of this method is to help families to fulfil themselves and, as the family is the very basis of society, I feel parliament should give serious thought to that problem. If we want the country to prosper, let us start by ensuring the prosperity of every family, every individual. If families are prosperous, all the institutions normally will be, or else they will disappear if they are not useful to people who can afford to pay.

Beautiful plants, stores, huge offices, marvelous schools and public buildings, skyscrapers fifty stories high are being built, but still too many slums are being tolerated.

Mr. Speaker, the concept of a guaranteed income is not new, since on October 22, 1968,

I gave the green light, here, to the personal guaranteed income, during the private members' business hour. At that time, I was congratulated on doing so, particularly by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.

April 20, 1970 COMMONS DEBATES

Guaranteed Minimum Income

The Leader of the Opposition said, and I quote:

I wish to congratulate the hon. member for his interest and concern in the grave problem of poverty in Canada and the improvement of assistance and welfare administration... X do want to congratulate him most sincerely upon his interest in the problem and for placing the matter before the House.

For his part, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Haidasz) said, and I quote:

I welcome the opportunity extended to us to take part in a debate on a guaranteed minimum income for Canadians. I should like to compliment both the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) on their contributions to this debate.

Fortunately, on April 6, 1970, three members of this house spoke again about a guaranteed minimum income, and expressed various views as to the problem and the difficulty of solving it, to start with the quasi-impossibility of isolating the problem and even of defining it, for the needs of the study.

Of course, I am happy to thank the honourable members for Oshawa-Whitby, Lanark and Renfrew and Scarborough West (Messrs. Broadbent, McBride and Weatherhead), for having opened the debate this year, thus allowing me to go straight to the point and to give some details and solutions concerning an individual guaranteed income.

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government is always ready to make gifts to some developing countries. Such action, repeated regularly enough, has a two fold purpose: First, to help the recipient country; secondly, to keep our industries going since with those gifts, foreign countries buy more from Canada.

If gifts to foreign countries contribute to the progress of our national economy, all the more would gifts to Canadians have the same results, affording at the same time a little comfort to families.

If new gifts promote the development of foreign countries, let us allow our own people to take advantage of the same methods.

Mr. Speaker, in order to give a new impetus to the national economy, I take the liberty of suggesting the amount of the gifts that will have to be made to all Canadians without income, namely $30 a month to all youngsters, from birth up to 12 years old, $60 a month to all students from 12 to 18 years of age, and $100 a month to all other citizens without any income, including mothers.

All hon. members who understand the meaning of the gifts to foreign countries will recognize that the gift approach is the only method which can so far ensure that a minimum income is paid without resulting in an increase in taxes, prices, or the cost of living, both for individuals and companies.

This method alone under which a purchasing power is guaranteed to the unemployed without any other source of income can replace, in my view, all family and personal allowances programs, as well as the Canada and the Quebec pensions plans, including the welfare allowances which have become as expensive as they are disgraceful.

The people who produce the national wealth have the right to tell the ministers and their elected representatives how to distribute production in the interests of all Canadian citizens, and not only to ensure superabundance to a few, to the prejudice of others who lack the necessities of life.

In short, Mr. Speaker, I dare hope that all hon. members who wish to better the lot of their constituents will give me their support.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Guilbault

Liberal

Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I think that I can give satisfaction to the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin), who hopes that several members will support him. In fact I am one of those who will support him.

I believe that the need for a guaranteed income system was felt in Canada for many years. However, let me tell you that the motion of the hon. member for Portneuf has a serious weakness, since it purports to restrict the guaranteed minimum income allowances to the unemployed Canadian citizens. Therefore, such a system would not apply to the poor workers, no more than the existing welfare programs. It would be almost identical to the present programs based on a means test.

Mr. Speaker, the tremendous economic growth experienced by Canada after the second world war could leave many people under the impression that as our gross national product would increase, the problem of poverty would gradually lose its importance. However, the facts have shown the contrary.

The real per capita revenue has increased noticeably, but a good number of the people have not benefited enough to get rid of poverty. The affluent society is more and more conspicuous for the poor, but the rich, to a great extent, remain unmoved by the predicament of the poor.

Guaranteed Minimum Income

During the past years, we have become more and more aware of the persistence of poverty in Canada. If we are not more sensibilized to the problem, perhaps it is partly due to the fact that we keep believing that poverty means full deprivation. In other words, the threshold of poverty has often been considered as the level of minimum physical sustenance, providing one with just enough to be able to live and work.

Human needs, however, also involve many conventional or social features related to the changes in the way of life of the community. Obviously, these features change with time. For instance, more and more people are now becoming aware of the fact that many people are poor because they are deprived of income, of job opportunities, of the environment and the self-respect, which are considered normal in the community. Poverty should therefore be considered as a fact related to the average standard of living, which is constantly developing. This, however, does not preclude isolated cases of utter destitution.

The tentative evaluation of poverty which appears in the fifth annual Eeport of the Economic Council of Canada shows that about four million Canadians may be considered as living at or below the poverty level. Preliminary estimates for 1967 involve 840,000 families and 586,000 single persons, adding up to some 3,850,000 people.

The data provided by the Canada Assistance Plan and the Old Age Security Program show that out of this number, almost two million people are now receiving an income supplement based on a means or needs test, or an income supplement to the old age security pensions. In spite of that, their income remains below the poverty level.

[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)

We can therefore conclude from the Economic Council figures that most of the remaining two million persons belong to families of small wage-earners who belong to the labour force but whose income is below the poverty level.

We will therefore note that there are now m Canada more than four million men, women and children who live in poverty compared to their fellow citizens. Some, if not all of them, are inadequately housed, fed, undereducated, deprived of leisure and frustrated even in their own sense of dignity. Most of them can be fitted into one of three main categories, the first of which includes the people on welfare.

DEBATES April 20, 1970

Mr. Speaker, the term "welfare" has become a bitter one for more than a million persons who rely on the system. Benefits vary considerably from one province to another, but in practically all cases, they fail to meet the actual needs of the recipients. People in receipt of relief feel stigmatized. They are often fearful and scornful of the local welfare officials because of the great power they wield and because of their often irrevocable decisions. That category is made up mostly of mothers without husbands either as a result of desertion, death or divorce. Disabled persons, a great number of whom are totally unable to fend for themselves, also belong to this category.

Another class belonging to this category are the older people. The economic situation of the aged in Canada is amply evidenced by the fact that 52 per cent, or almost 750,000 of those on welfare, are eligible, either partially or fully, to the guaranteed minimum income.

For a good many of those elderly people the guaranteed income supplement does not provide decent living conditions. And yet most of them cannot get the advantages provided by the Canada Assistance Plan. It should be pointed out that a relatively small number of elderly people who are living in a state of poverty receive some supplementary assistance through the provinces.

Those I call the working poor are another category of needy people. More than two million people fall into this category. A good many of them note bitterly that in spite of all their efforts to succeed in supporting themselves their lot is actually worse than that of their fellow-citizens who are not working and get welfare payments. Those people sometimes earn their low income from marginal industries, from jobs on farms, from work done as woodcutters or as fishermen. It may be also that they live in economically underprivileged areas where they can find parttime or low-paying jobs only. They are also found in big cities with a very high cost of living and where they manage somehow to make both ends meet with an income in the neighborhood of the minimum salary.

But the motion presented by the hon. member for Portneuf does not provide for any benefit for those two million people who live, in spite of the fact that they work, in a state of poverty. I should like to add, in this connection, that this motion is not that much different from existing provincial welfare schemes.

April 20, 1970 COMMONS

Bachelors and married people with no children are not as a rule eligible to the various programs designed to meet the needs of particular classes of people. Still, it was expected that the unemployment insurance program would apply to all persons actually in need. But we note that, at the provincial level, welfare programs have not generally taken into account the needs of the low wage earners, that is what I call the category of poor workers.

Everyone knows that, generally speaking, poor workers are not entitled to social welfare benefits under present regulations. This situation prevails despite the fact that, under the provisions of the Canada Assistance Plan or of the agreements concluded with the provinces pursuant to that Plan, there is absolutely no restrictions concerning the federal share of the costs of assistance to fulltime workers.

Some provinces are determinedly against financial assistance as the basis of the general policy for full-time employees; other provinces do not reject it. However, the principle of granting financial assistance is extremely limited in those provinces and benefits are usually available only to the families which experience severe hardships.

The proposal of giving welfare allowances to full-time workers naturally raises the much debate question of determining reasons, more particularly so when it is considered with regard to the application of adequate forms of assistance to people who are unable to work. The objection is often raised that the fact of providing those who are unable to work with a satisfactory allowance can dampen the sense of independence of the recipients who are partly able to work and of those full-time workers who could not earn more than what the assistance brings. That is the basic dilemma.

If the welfare systems provide adequate assistance for the unemployables and give

identical help to employable recipients, but without any income exemption, the latter will

not be encouraged to work: any income arising out of a job only reduces the amount of benefits and leaves no advantage to someone who works.

If employable individuals are granted partial income exemptions beyond a basic adequate level, not only a huge expenditure of public funds will be necessary to help those whose income is lower than that level, but the systems will then apparently be subsidizing the small wage-earners. If to give an

DEBATES 8069

Guaranteed Minimum Income incentive to work to employable individuals, a certain form of guaranteed income lower than an adequate minimum level is applied, the difficulty remains as far as the determination of an adequate income for the unemployables is concerned.

For two years now the federal government

has been carrying out a reappraisal of its social security programs and of their objectives in order to decide which method among those that I have just mentioned, or which combination of methods, would be more in harmony with the aims of social security in the future. A close analysis of the costs and consequences of each method is necessary.

In the throne speech last fall, as hon. members will recall, the government announced the preparation of a white paper on social security to be tabled in the House during the current session. That document will make known the results of the reappraisal that has been underway for the past two years. It will give the federal government an opportunity to make known its views and its intentions in this field. It will also allow for a general discussion on the matters in question and for a dialogue with the public on the methods to be used with regard to income security in Canada in the next ten years.

I ask the government of Canada to include in this white paper proposals relating to the establishment of a guaranteed minimum income plan for Canadians.

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North

Centre): Mr. Speaker, although there are one or two aspects of the motion now before us with which I must take exception, I should like as my first word to commend the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin) on bringing before us once again the question of a guaranteed income for the Canadian people. While I am in a mood to extend congratulations, may I also commend the hon. member for Saint-Jacques (Mr. Guilbault) on his insistence that our concern for those living in poverty should not be confined to persons and families on relief, social welfare and so on. He makes the point very well when he emphasizes that many people who are working are on incomes so low that they too are living in poverty. As a matter of fact, I suspect the figure he gave of four million Canadians really existing in poverty is probably a conservative one. I suggest this figure probably is five million or more.

April 20, 1970

Guaranteed Minimum Income [DOT] (5:30 p.m.)

However, Mr. Speaker, although I commend the hon. member for Portneuf for again bringing before us the question of the guaranteed income, even as I commend all hon. members who are interested in the problem of poverty, I must again say that I feel very strongly that we are not really comprehending the problem nor coming up with a solution when we talk about income guarantees that in effect are based on means or income tests. That, indeed, is my one quarrel with the motion placed before us by the hon. member for Portneuf, in that he wants this guaranteed minimum income, as he defines it, to be made available to every Canadian citizen "who is without work or other source of income." It seems to me that if we continue to think in terms of social assistance, social welfare, social security programs or what-have-you as having to be based on what people already have, based on whether or not they are at work, based on whether or not they have enough income, we are in effect keeping people in a category of poverty.

Hon. members are aware of the recent book by Ian Adams, entitled "Wall of Poverty". In it he has a chapter entitled-I think I have this correct although I do not have the book in front of me-"Keeping the poor that way." That is what concerns me about most of our approaches to the problem of poverty. We think of these people as the poor and so we must do something to help them; we do it out of kindness or compassion, or to keep the economy going. But we seem to assume they will still be the poor; they will still be in need of assistance. I submit that some day society will get wise to itself, and I do not see why we cannot start now and make to our people grants that are a form of guaranteed annual income without any reference to work, means tests or what-have-you.

There are in society many things in respect of which we do this already. We provide all our people with education. Oh, there are varying degrees of education that people get, depending upon their incomes, depending upon whether or not they can go up into the higher grades, to university and so on; but we provide it, and we boast of our society as one that provides education for all. We provide police and fire protection for all. We provide roads, highways and national defence. There are many things that are part of a society, and if you live in the society you are entitled to share in them.

I believe the day will come when we will say the same thing about a basic standard of living and about the number of dollars, the income, that is necessary so that everybody achieves that standard of living. We will grant everyone a basic income and let the income tax take it back from the wealthy. We started to move in that directiotn with respect to the old age security pension back in 1950 or 1951 when we provided a pension to everyone of a certain age regardless of his means or other income.

We retreated a bit when we added the guaranteed income supplement and put it on a means test basis. But I submit that it is still true that some of the sting that used to go with old age, when the old age pension was on a means test basis, has been taken out because there is this money available to everyone. That is what I want to see, not just for our senior citizens but for all groups in society.

Indeed, I think that a practical way to do this is to start with one group and move on to another. I would like to see a guaranteed income provided first of all to our senior citizens. I do not mean a guaranteed minimum income based on means; I do not mean a guaranteed income supplement-I mean raising the basic $75 to $150 and giving it to everyone, across the board.

I think our veterans group is another in respect of which we could practice the principle of a guaranteed income for all without regard to means or to other income. Then perhaps the next area is our families. Although people say that family allowances do not play the part that they did when they were brought in in 1945, this is a way of providing certain basic guarantees of income to all our family units regardless of the other income that people may have, regardless of whether they have jobs or not, and therefore family allowances should be increased. Mr. Speaker, that is the point I want to make, that providing a guaranteed income means granting it across the board, without any means or income test.

People ask about the cost of these things. Of course these programs cost money, but my hon. friend from Portneuf-even though he may have put it in words that the rest of us say is Social Credit jargon-is awfully close to the truth when he says we can provide things out of our gross national product. What is it that we want to provide? Do we want lots of filling stations, tall office buildings, great bank buildings and affluence of that

April 20, 1970 COMMONS

kind; affluence for a few at the top-or do we want the purpose of our gross national product first and foremost to be a guaranteed income for all our people? I believe it can be done. I believe it will have to be done.

I do not want to be accused of trying to paraphrase something a great man once said, but I think it is true that society, whether it is ours in Canada or that of the world around us, cannot go on half well-off and half poor, half secure and half insecure. If we are to hold together any kind of unity, any kind of society, certain things will have to be shared and enjoyed equally by all our people. I think the way to get this kind of thing started is to work for a guaranteed income. As I say, I would pick out certain groups as the first ones, such as senior citizens, veterans, and families.

The day of this kind of social security will come, and I do not think we should resist it by saying that it is futuristic or by going along with this gobbledegook about selective programs of social security and social welfare. That is turning the clock back, Mr. Speaker, and we do not want that. We want to move ahead into the kind of society that is possible in the future. Why does the future always have to be so far out in front, especially when you consider that in the meantime, as my hon. friend from Saint-Jacques (Mr. Guilbault) has said, four million or five million people in this great country of Canada, with all the wealth we are producing, are living in poverty today? It is not good enough. A guaranteed income could solve it, and I welcome the fact that the hon. member for Portneuf has asked us to do some thinking about this question again today.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME
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LIB

Aurélien Noël

Liberal

Mr. Aurelien Noel (Outremont):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Jacques (Mr. Guilbeault), who pointed out the following flaw in the motion proposed by the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin), and I quote:

-every Canadian citizen who is without work or other source of income.

This is too restrictive.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) himself drew our attention to the matter when he said that this yearly income should not only be granted to unemployed Canadian citizens. As my hon.

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Guaranteed Minimum Income colleague pointed out, there are a lot of employed people whose income is below the subsistence level.

If we further analyse the motion moved by the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin), we note the following and I quote:

-that the amount required for the payment of the guaranteed minimum income be derived from the national product so as to increase neither the taxes-

I simply do not understand that proposal. How can we make available to Canadians without income, capital or work the national product? It needs always to be transformed to some extent so that the Canadian citizens can avail himself of it. I do not understand that at all.

Further on the motion says:

-be derived from the national product so as to increase neither the taxes on individuals and companies, nor the cost of living, nor the price of any product or service;

This seems to me quite fantastic. I continue:

-this measure could, with advantage, replace the contributions and payments of all the systems of unemployment insurance, social welfare, family and personal allowances, Canada Pensions and Quebec Pensions.

Thus it is a matter of getting rid of all that has been done for several years to help the poor who have special needs. We are going to demolish everything in order to rebuild. I know some people today who call for destruction, especially in the province of Quebec. Would it be another form of demolition? I do not think that such was the intention of the hon. member who sponsored the motion.

This motion implies that the provinces are all agreed about it. This is an illusion. All the same!

Though I am in favour of the government supplying the Canadian people with guarantees against poverty and also in favour of improving the present system, I cannot, however, endorse the four points specifically and implicitly included in the motion.

Let us examine the first argument. The program would be financed, as proposed, out of the national product, without increasing taxes or the cost of living. The motion suggests that the national product can provide the necessary funds to cover the substantial increase in expenditures without necessarily boosting individual or corporations taxes the cost of living or the price of goods or services. In my opinion, these objectives cannot be achieved in practice; in short, they are unobtainable so to speak.

April 20, 1970

Guaranteed Minimum Income

I just cannot imagine how such a tremendous increase in expenditures could be financed except by an over-all increase in the personal and corporate income tax, the sales tax, by taking over credits allowed to other government programs, by making loans, by depreciating our currency, through some rearrangements of the above mentioned proposals, or, finally, by putting the printing press to work making bank notes.

All these factors could put pressure on costs and prices and bring about a drop in real income. Then, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to reach the goals mentioned in this motion.

Canada is not as rich a country as some of its citizens seem to think. Supported by a rising tide of all kinds of aspirations, since the Second World War, various groups in our society expect that the community will enable them to realize these aspirations, whatever they are, and they contend that the community has the financial capacity to do so. On the other hand, it is well known that all taxpayers object to the general level of taxes. This has been forcefully demonstrated here by the spontaneous outcry of several individuals when the white paper was submitted. The level of taxes has to be particularly taken into consideration when they are to be increased.

As far as possible, funds which are already paid into the system should be distributed to the poor in the fairest way possible. But those funds are not sufficient.

To respond in a practical and fair way to the challenge of poverty, Canada will have to find additional funds, in addition to those which already support our social security system. The resources already allotted to the system must, as far as possible, be distributed to the poor and new funds must be contributed in order to achieve this main, priority goal.

Mr. Speaker, I said "as far as possible" and this leads me to criticize a second argument of the motion which I cannot accept. It deals with the proposal that the guaranteed minimum income should replace the contributions and payments of all the systems of unemployment insurance, social welfare, family and personal allowances, including Canada Pensions and Quebec Pensions.

Before discussing the replacement of all the present income supplement systems we should again examine their purposes. It is advisable to recall the objectives of the income supplement programs. Some of them are devised so as to provide for an income

supplement intended to help out poor people under certain economic circumstances and to prevent impoverishment. Others are designed to protect all citizens against the loss of income incurred from social risks which affect all citizens and not only the poor; some of them are even so designed as to redistribute income to the disadvantaged people of our society.

Canadian social security programs have been set up to fight poverty and to bring in social insurance. As far as poverty is concerned they have been meant to ascertain a strict minimum income to those who have not or hardly the means of supporting themselves, and as far as social insurance is concerned, they are made to protect people against certain social risks.

Unemployment insurance has been established to provide all contributors and members of the labour force with a short-term unemployment income irrespective of their annual income. It fills in for the salary lost momentarily on account of unemployment, without the recipient being required to earn an income lower than the poverty-line level. One of the purposes of the Canada Pension Plan and the old age security program is to provide an income supplement to the old, the disabled and widows regardless of any income they may receive.

[DOT] (5:50 p.m.)

Workmen's compensation is designed to provide for income maintenance and health services arising from accidents suffered at work or industrial diseases. The maximum levels of support are more generous than would be the case under a system of guaranteed minimum income. Consequently, the legislation implementing a guaranteed annual income program to replace the existing programs should be carefully considered in order to determine its effect on the social and economic goals achieved by several of the existing programs.

It is necessary to take into account the technical and the political aspects of the results ensuing from the substitution of the guaranteed annual income for the existing programs. For some programs, the substitution would be relatively simple; for others it would be extremely complicated, not to mention the political problems it would create.

From the technical standpoint, it would be relatively easy to replace the family allowance plan but, from the political standpoint, it might give rise to strong objections on the

April 20, 1970 COMMONS

part of those who would stand to lose if the current program were abandoned. Families with an income over a certain level would no longer get these allowances nor would they be entitled to the maintenance income provided under the guaranteed minimum income scheme.

Replacing the unemployment insurance program would create a certain number of problems. Owing to some commitments too costly for their standard of living, unemployed people with an annual income above the prescribed limit on minimum income may have an urgent need for a short-term maintenance income, even though these people are usually above the poverty level.

The abolition of unemployment insurance would suddenly deprive some workers with an average income of a type of protection which they now get and to which they have contributed for a period of years. In order to overcome the difficulty, the unemployment insurance plan should not be replaced but be made part of the entire guaranteed income scheme. The minimum guaranteed income should be available to those who are at or below the basic income level, but those who are in the higher income brackets and who are unemployed should receive a proportional supplement.

The substitution of the annual guaranteed income system for the old age security scheme would cause serious problems to those who have an income higher than the basic level of maintenance income. Most of the people who receive life annuities from a private enterprise made it part of old age security. Many retired persons or some who are on the verge of retirement are convinced that an old age pension will be paid to them as soon as they reached retirement age. It is distressing to think that 40 per cent of older persons might be in such a situation and would not get a pension, because their income exceeded the standards of basic income, more especially since several have been paying a special tax for old age pension since 1952.

One could dwell at length on the implicit contents of the resolution. I cannot agree, because the motion on the whole does not apparently take into account the fact that the central government cannot act alone in determining a guaranteed annual income without consulting the provinces beforehand. It is an important constitutional problem which the motion overlooks. Social assistance, in whatever form it is implemented, is an extremely complex problem which must be studied thor-

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Guaranteed Minimum Income oughly. It is not good enough to promote the idea and then say that everything will turn out well.

The replacement or the integration of the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan would surely cause difficulties in respect of contractual commitments to contributors in every province. As in the case of unemployment insurance, the purpose of the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan is to provide additional income to people in all income brackets who would not bother to provide against a rainy day.

It would be very difficult to replace that goal by a formula which would bring a maintenance income only to lower income groups.

The motion also suggests that the present social welfare plan be abolished and that the funds be made available for a federal guaranteed minimum income scheme. On the one hand, this proposal does not mention that 50 per cent of contributions to these plans come from provincial and municipal governments, which could well decide to use these amounts for other purposes if a federal guaranteed income plan were created. On the other hand, it does not take into consideration the likelihood that social assistance programs based on needs of citizens must be maintained, even if a federal guaranteed income plan were to be implemented.

I presume that the federal government would not be able to distinguish between the citizens in urban areas and those in rural areas, where the cost of living is high or not. I also suppose that we would have to guarantee a certain level of income according to the number of members in a family, regardless of the area, the city or the place where these people want to live.

I believe this would be a very costly proposition. As a matter of fact, a great deal of money would be needed to guarantee a minimum income to everybody, to enable them to live in an adequate and dignified manner in metropolitan areas like Montreal or Toronto. This minimum income would have to be fixed in terms of the needs of people of average income.

If this assumption is correct, the income level that we could guarantee to people in Toronto and Montreal would undoubtedly be inadequate to support families. Therefore, some families would need additional assistance which could not be granted to them under a standard system of minimum payments established for all Canadian people.

April 20, 1970

Fisheries Act

Some people may need special diets, drugs, apparatus, supervision or services which cannot be provided under the guaranteed minimum income plan. It will then be necessary to establish special social welfare programs in addition to the payment of a guaranteed minimum income to all unfortunate families who live in areas where the cost of living is high and the minimum income inadequate. I cannot believe that all the social programs would simply disappear if a yearly guaranteed income plan was established.

Finally, my colleague from Saint-Jacques pointed out that the motion is too restrictive, that it applies only to unemployed people or to those without capital. I shall, therefore, spare the House the few remarks that I had prepared on that subject.

This is a very complex problem and, as my colleague from Saint-Jacques has just said, the government is giving active consideration to it. As the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) has said, we all want a more equitable distribution of riches, but the question is to find the means of insuring a fair, rational and efficient distribution of all such resources.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME
Permalink
PC

Jay Waldo Monteith

Progressive Conservative

Hon. J. W. Monfeith (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, I see I have 30 seconds left before the supper adjournment. I should simply like to say that I regret very much not having had the opportunity of putting my personal views or those of my party on record during the discussion on this matter.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME
Permalink
LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. The hour appointed for the consideration of private members' business having expired, I do now leave the chair until 8 p.m.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic:   THE CANADIAN ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME
Permalink

AFTER RECESS The House resumed at 8 p.m.


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

April 20, 1970