April 19, 1972

NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Shame.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Those are the poorest in the land. The minister talks about this being an anti-poverty measure, a redistribution of income, and he provides in the act that children of families on welfare within the meaning of the Canada Assistance Plan shall get half the benefit; in other words, shall get almost nothing above what they get now.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
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LIB

John Carr Munro (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Munro:

Children in institutions.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

I expected the minister would say that. Somehow I had a hunch he would say that. I want to tell the minister that he should read the bill which he is piloting through the House. If he reads the bill, he will find in section 3(l)(b) that the person dealt with there is not only a person in an institution but a person under 18 years of age who is wholly or substantially maintained out of moneys administered or provided by a department or agency of the government of Canada or of a province, and the children in institutions are dealt with in a separate subparagraph. The minister should read it. What the bill says is that not only children in institutions will get half the benefit but that children of all families on social welfare in Canada will get only half the benefit.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
LIB

John Carr Munro (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Munro:

That is not so, even on the basis of the hon. member's own reading.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

What a shameful thing to do. Is this a war on poverty? How is this bill directed to such a war, indeed how is it for meanness shown to the poorest children in this land? I ask hon. members to read clauses 3 and 5. I usually try to avoid saying things that are clearly wrong, and that I know are wrong. No matter how many times the minister interrupts, I tell him that he does not know what this bill does. What it does is shameful, and if he read this bill he would see that every word I have said is right.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
LIB

John Carr Munro (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Munro:

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure the hon. member would not want to intentionally mislead the House. If he is using that wording to indicate that all families with children who are receiving social assistance in Canada are going to get half the family allowance, then he is misreading the clause to which he just referred.

Family Income Security Plan

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

I am not, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

This is hardly a point of order. It is a point of debate between the minister and the hon. member. The hon. member who has the floor referred to a particular clause of the bill and gave it an interpretation. The minister disagreed with him. That is debate. I do not think that clause can be debated in this form and at this time, so I suggest to hon. members that this is the kind of debate which normally should take place at the committee stage rather than on second reading.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

I want to underline that so far as I am concerned the minister is not sliding under. Subclause (2) of clause 6 of the bill which provides for the benefit refers to children with respect to whom I read the subsection, namely, children maintained through public funds, federal or provincial. It says that if these children receive assistance within the meaning of the Canada Assistance Plan, they will receive half the benefits. There is no doubt about the words. There is no doubt in my mind that the words are there deliberately and that the people advising the minister were looking for money in order to give a few more dollars to some of the working poor while taking it from everybody else. They took the money from those on welfare because they say they pay half of it under the Canada Assistance Plan, and they took it from the people in the $7,000 to $11,000 income range which at this time in this country is not the range in which the wealthy families of this country are found.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

The same as the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

We will have nothing to do with the kind of callous, pennypinching that this clause represents, and which describes the whole of the situation. In fact, I say to the minister and to members of the House that, in addition to the specific provision in the bill, children of families on welfare will not benefit in any way from this legislation because anyone who has had anything to do with welfare agencies and welfare departments-and you can ask any agency in the land-knows perfectly well that changes in welfare payments must be made for one reason or another on some basis of need, and family allowance payments are bound to be taken into consideration in the future as they have been in the past. The result will be that the really poorest people in Canada will benefit not one whit from this measure.

This is not the place for an anti-poverty program. This is not where or how you fight poverty in this country. Family allowances are not intended to serve that purpose, and when you try to make them serve that purpose inevitably you produce inequity, inequality and injustice, as this bill has in fact done. What the minister has done here has been what the government did in the case of old age security pensions when it froze that pension at $80 a month and increased the guaranteed income supplement. The result is that as one travels across this country, as I do, one meets literally thousands of pensioners who cannot quite qualify for the supplement but who still live in squalor, insecurity and unhappiness That is what the government did to old age pensioners by freezing the pension at $80. It is now producing precisely the same

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

results with this measure. It is introducing precisely the same principle into this bill dealing with family allowances.

The philosophy of family allowances was that they were to assist in the upbringing of Canada's children, the most important asset that any country has. Making payments in this area selective destroys that purpose. No one suggests that it is possible to make payments that will totally pay the cost of rearing children, but the intention was to give some meaningful assistance to families with children, although it has not been meaningful thus far, in recognition of the fact that families with children have special needs and that all children should be given at least a modicum of equality of opportunity across this country. And it has been just a bit of equality; that is all it has been. To introduce arbitrary selectivity into this kind of social security program is to ignore this principle and introduce inequalities. Let me deal with this for a few minutes, Mr. Speaker.

The minister in his speech said that over one million Canadian families will get nil benefit out of this bill. I would like to ask any member of this House, any member of our society in Canada, whether he believes that there are more than a million rich families in this country? I would like to ask the minister if he really thinks that paying nothing on behalf of children in over one million families in Canada is a fair thing to do, and whether he really believes there are one million families in Canada that do not need some extra assistance for the upbringing of their children? This, itself, proves the iniquities in this bill.

The minister says that about 1 \ million families will get full benefits, and at one place in his speech he says that 900,000 will get maximum benefits. I think I now understand the difference between maximum and full benefits which I mentioned last night. Now, I believe that the people who wrote the minister's speech did know what they were talking about. The maximum benefits in this case are related to those who get the $15 and $20, and the full benefits are those the minister provides in the bill, including half the benefit that children of social welfare families get, so that of the 11 million families there will be 300,000, 400,000, 500,000-who knows the number-families on welfare whose children will not get more than half the benefit the minister provides in the bill.

No one will deny that there are a good many families that will get more under the scheme that the minister proposes. So what, Mr. Speaker? When you have given them $6 and $8 for so many years, with the cost of living going up all the time, and then introduce a bill which gives a little more to some of the families, it is supposed to be acceptable. I say to the minister no, because you have to look at the bill and see what it does to all families in Canada. I will deal with a few examples if I have time, Mr. Speaker.

I want to put on record what a child under 12 will get. If a family consists of one child under 12 years and has an income level of $7,500, that child will get $1 less than it gets now. It will get $5 instead of $6 under the present bill. If the family income is $8,000, the payment to the child

will be $3.45 a month. If the family income is $8,500 the payment is $1.80 a month, and if the family income is $9,000 the payment is nil.

Then, look at a family with two children under 12 years. At $8,000 and above they get less than now. At $8,000 the child gets $5.10, 90 cents less than the present $6. At the $9,000 income level, each child will receive $1.80 instead of $6, and at $9,300 the two children will get nil from this bill.

A family with five children under 12 years and having an income of $8,000 will get for each child $10 instead of the present $6, an increase of about two thirds, but we must remember that the cost of living is 230 per cent higher than it was in 1945. A family with five children and total family income of $9,000, under the plan proposed by the minister will get about the same per child as was received before, and at $9,300 will get less than the $6 per child, while at $10,000 income the allowance will be $3.45 a month.

I want to say that this group of families with incomes between $7,000 and $10,000, or $7,500 and $10,500, are not rich. They are not rich in our present society. All these families are usually in debt to finance companies. They are the families of working people, of people who work in factories. They are the families of farmers who are trying to eke out a living. They are the families of salaried people in offices. They are families that are not wealthy, families that need the family allowance, who need a little extra for their children.

In summary what we have is that for families on social assistance there is no improvement or hardly any improvement. Children of families with income from $7,500 to $10,500 will receive substantially less, and a third of the families in Canada are completely cut off from any family allowance. I think that is a correct summary of what the bill proposes. I say to you, Sir, not only for myself but for my entire party that this is a shameful, rotten system to foist on the Canadian people at this time in 1972.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

In my humble and profound opinion, it is an uncivilized act to deal in this way with social security in a country as wealthy as Canada, in a country where the gross national product keeps on growing all the time, in a country where we hand out hundreds of millions of dollars each year to large, poverty-stricken corporations, most of them multinational, to enable them to increase their profits, in a country which will make a $6 million Christmas gift to Great Canadian Oil Sands Limited, a subsidiary of Sun Oil, a country that writes tax laws so that one can obtain a monopoly for a newspaper in the largest English speaking market in the country and make the public pay for it. In such a country, to foist this on the people of Canada is a shameful act for any government, even this government.

Furthermore, the income market I am talking about, those with incomes from $7,500 to $10,500, not only are they not rich, not only are they in trouble all the time, but they are the families that carry the heaviest tax load in this country. All you have to do is study our tax system to see that. To deprive them of the little additional assistance that would have been available under a decent plan is

April 19, 1972

really something we cannot accept. I want to say to the minister that the evil of this kind of thing will surely come out in months to come, just as I am sure that the majority the government now has will push this legislation through. It will result in dividing communities, in humiliating people.

Most families that receive family allowance cheques will cash them somewhere in their own locality. Everybody will be watching everybody. With a little bit of calculation people will know what somebody else's income is by the size of the family allowance cheque which a person cashes in the local grocery store or in the bank on the corner, and everybody will resent it if someone else gets more than they get. It is the kind of thing that divides communities. People who make $7,500 get so much and those who make $8,500 get so much. Nevertheless, people who live in the same neighbourhood are in the same economic and social stratum in society; they live side by side and deal with the same people. Everybody will know exactly what his neighbour's income is and how much he receives in family allowance. That will divide communities into the have and have not segments. A thousand dollars more income or a thousand dollars less income will create the kind of tension that government ought to remove rather than produce in legislation that it brings before parliament.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Those who do not receive benefits because they earn a few dollars more than their neighbour will bitterly resent those who get benefit, especially when they realize that they pay a little bit more tax than their neighbour. One man may earn $6,800 and another $7,200; the first gets benefit but the second pays as much or more taxes and this will be bitterly resented. Those who receive the benefits will be unnecessarily humiliated by the fact that their neighbour, who earns a few dollars more, does not receive them. By definition, they must be in need, Mr. Speaker. These are threats to social harmony in a society. They produce a backlash against the social system, against the welfare system, against the taxation system instead of making people realize that there is a unity in this country, that we are trying to create a Canadian family of harmony and decency. This is another reason this is so unacceptable in my opinion to every sensitive thinking person.

As far as the question of administration is concerned, the plan is a bureaucratic nightmare and this should be obvious to everyone who thinks about it, Mr. Speaker. It certainly must have been obvious to the people who conceived it. Payments are scaled to the number of children and to thfe precise income. If you earn $100 more, 33 cents a month is dropped from the benefit. The increase has to be in the $500 bracket. This means that every time a family's income increases by $500, every time the husband or wife is laid off during the year, the farmer whose income varies from $3,000 one year to $7,000 or $8,000 the next because he cannot control the market price of his product, every time there is this kind of change in the family income or when a child passes the age of 12 or 18 years or there is a new birth, it is necessary to make a new application supplying the additional information to the

Family Income Security Plan

department and the bureaucrats who will deal with it. This will create a nightmare, even in comparison with the administrative mess created by the unemployment insurance administration. There are provisions for penalties for infractions. As I read the bill, Mr. Speaker, there will be endless infractions because the ordinary Canadian cannot be expected to follow these bureaucratic instructions. To be acceptable, a social security program ought to be simple in administration, ought to cost as little as possible to administer and ought to be worded in such a way that every Canadian can "read as he runs" as the phrase goes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Instead, this is an administrative jungle, a complex and complicated piece which inflicts a mean-hearted injury to Canadian society.

The minister has admitted that this plan will require double the number of employees to administer it, if I remember correctly, that is from 730 to 1,470 but I could look that up. I know it will be twice as many. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to hon. members of this House that from the experience we have all had, we know that if the minister has estimated the number of employees to be double we can be sure that it will be double that by the time Parkinson's law takes effect. Instead of some 1,500 employees administering this plan, we are more likely to have 2,000 or 2,500 and the costs will go up and up.

What is much worse is that families in Canada will be under constant pressure to send in new information and applications and the red tape by which they will be tied will be staggering. This is another reason we cannot accept this bill, Mr. Speaker.

As the Prime Minister (Mr. Ti udeau) is so fond of saying as he goes across Canada, this is a very great country. We have a great people in Canada, perhaps not greater than any other country but a very great people none the less. Our people have produced great wealth in this country but what has been wrong has been that the wealth with which we have been endowed and that the people have produced, has not been equitably and fairly distributed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
NDP

David Lewis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

We have grown from a country which only a few years ago had a gross national product of $31 billion or $32 billion to a country which today has a gross national product three times that. We have a more educated and skilled people than most other parts of the world. In fact, as I have said on a number of occasions, we have a country where Canadians can realistically dream of greatness because we have the resources for it. It only requires courage and imagination to produce that greatness and to get the Canadian people to work toward it. In order to induce that kind of commitment to our country, all the people of Canada have to be given a sense of involvement in society, a sense of getting their fair share of the wealth and income that they collectively produce, and that ordinary social security programs will adequately take care of the upbringing of the child.

I want to say to the minister that the $15 or $20 does not come anywhere near the cost of raising the child. On the

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

basis of the standard health rules, food is calculated as costing $27; shelter, $15; doting, $7, minimal; dentistry, $2, making a total of $51 a month to bring up a child. I am doing this from memory, but I am sure I am not wrong. Those figures do not take into account toys, treats, educational material, transportation, games or anything else, so that even the $15 or $20 that is suggested in the bill and in our view should be made universal, does not come anywhere near the cost of raising a child.

If we make the $15 or $20 universal across the country- and I would prefer that it be higher-then we give encouragement to the person who works in a plant and has managed to get up to a wage of $3 an hour. This is all he needs to have in order to get an income, depending on how many children he has, that will take him out of any meaningful contribution on behalf of his child or children. There are now hundreds of thousands of Canadians with those skills, and the person who works in an office or has finished university or college and is able to make $7,000 $8,000 or $9,000 a year and is bringing up a family deserves the assistance of a decent family allowance benefit. If those families are given at least this modicum of assistance for bringing up their children, there will be a new spirit toward the community, toward our society and toward building the great Canada that we all, collectively, can build.

If one considers this bill from every point of view, I suggest that it is wrong. If we consider it from the point of view of social philosophy generally, from the point of view of the idea behind family allowances, from the point of view that it will deprive children now getting social welfare assistance of even the benefits put forward in this bill, from the point of view that large numbers of middle income families will get nothing out of this legislation and from the point of view that the administration of this bill will present an administrative nightmare, I submit to you, Sir, that, if we think about it carefully, all of us in the House ought to tell the minister to go back to his office, convene his mandarins again and tell them to bring forward a sensible and humane family allowance proposal in place of the monstrosity we have before us.

For that reason I move, seconded by the hon. member

That Bill C-170 be not now read a second time, but that it be resolved that in the opinion of this House the government should give consideration to the introduction of legislation amending the Family Allowances Act and the Youth Allowances Act to provide for a substantial increase in the allowances paid thereunder, for continuing the principle of universality, and for related changes in the income tax legislation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink

April 19, 1972