April 19, 1972

SC

Léonel Beaudoin

Social Credit

Mr. Leonel Beaudoin (Richmond):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak today on Bill C-170, an Act to provide for the payment of benefits in respect of children.

It is, I suggest, the privilege and the duty of each member of this House to acquaint the government with the thinking of his constituents about the substance of the bill now before us. I shall therefore call your attention, Mr. Speaker, in behalf of all citizens of Richmond, to the multiple aspects of the family allowances bill.

We all know that the family Allowances Act was passed some 25 years ago and came into force on July 1, 1945.

Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, I am glad to point out that at that time all Alberta Creditiste members voted unanimously in favour of the bill, in 1944.

As the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) pointed out a few weeks ago, some election-tinged events surrounded the implementation of family allowances. I should like to quote, if I may, a paragraph from what the hon. member said in 1944.1 quote:

You will note, Mr. Speaker, that Mr. Mackenzie King dismissed accusations of electioneering with all his usual skill. That legislative measure was dealt with in the House in June and July 1944. He rose in his place and with his usual solemnity declared: This is not an election promise; I made it clear in this bill that the benefits will take effect only from July 1,1945 and everybody is aware that an election will have to take place until then, according to the Constitution. Therefore it was not election propaganda. It so happened that the bill was passed in 1944 and that an election took place in June 1945. And the Liberals could say: We succeeded in getting this bill through and you will get the benefits on the 1st of July.

No it really was not election propaganda-definitely not. That's Mackenzie King for you!

Now, we all know that a bill almost similar to the one before us was introduced by the government during the last session. It was Bill C-264. It sank into oblivion at the end of the session and the government would like us now to pass Bill C-170.

Nevertheless, there is something that worries me: in the previous bill, it was clearly stated that Canadian mothers would get the extra family allowances on May 1, 1972. In Bill C-170, no date is mentioned.

I believe the government is considering the possibility of an election taking place at an early date; thus it will not be able to pass the family allowances bill and will use that for exclusively political purposes.

I can see the government members saying to their electors: Elect us and we will see that the family allowances bill goes through.

Mr. Speaker, some members opposite are shaking their heads and one of them even said-

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

An hon. Member:

The people know-

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

Léonel Beaudoin

Social Credit

Mr. Beaudoin:

-the people know. Perhaps I agree. It is why I say that because each time this bill is delayed the mothers are losing a substantial income.

Mr. Speaker, I admit that I am very much concerned about the constitutional aspect of this bill. I cannot understand why the Quebec government allows this breach of our constitution to perpetuate and waives a genuine right.

I would like now to quote from a speech of my colleague the Creditiste member for Champlain (M. Matte) who said in this House on March 27 last:

They will say: That is once more a very particular opinion which does not reflect reality. But 1 would like to prove it by reading an editorial from the newspaper La Presse of Thursday, March 16, and I quote:

The former deputy minister for intergovernmental affairs in Quebec-

That is a man who has served under three different regimes in Quebec and who must know quite a bit about such things.

April 19, 1972

This is an agreement between the prime minister and a provincial premier and not between two governments. Here is what Mr. Morin has to say:

-if the "administrative compromise" proposed by Ottawa were accepted by Quebec and then sanctioned in constitutional legislation, the Province of Quebec would then formally recognize a right to which the federal government is not entitled in the field of allowances. Mr. Morin even voiced the opinion that mere agreement from the premier of Quebec to Ottawa's proposal would be sufficient, in the absence of constitutional legislation, to establish a precedent.

According to Mr. Morin, when all is said, there is more cause fo_ concern than for celebration at the moment if the recent fede al proposal is looked at closely. There is a danger that this prop jsal could annihilate all progress made by Quebec in the constitutional field and postpone for ever the basis of Quebec's claims which is a true sharing of powers.

Mr. Speaker, this is what Quebec wants: an adequate and fair sharing of taxation powers. That is what Quebec wants. As for us, we advocate decentralization in that area so that each region of this country may be allowed to administer itself better.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that Canadian taxpayers are going to take the money which they are given, no matter where it comes from. Nevertheless, we are renewing in this bill a past mistake and infringing upon a provincial jurisdiction.

Once again, these criteria should be reviewed when constitutional conferences convene and I think the time is long overdue for the federal and provincial governments to determine once and for all their respective powers.

I agree of course on the proposal to increase family allowances. I profoundly regret however that the government, if it intends to infringe upon a provincial jurisdiction, has tabled a bill that only raises family allowances by a few miserly dollars and to the benefit of only a few.

Indeed, family allowances have actually decreased since 1945. The cost of living and the average wage are conclusive proof in this regard.

In 1945, the average weekly salary was $32 and it was $132.72 in 1970. So, Mr. Speaker, there has been more than a 300 per cent increase while the average rate of family allowances went up by only 15 per cent. Not only is this unacceptable, but it amounts to a glaring inequity against large families which have to contend with the prospect of an income that is becoming, by the day, more incompatible with the cost of living in Canada in 1972.

Bill C-170 provides for payment of a maximum of $180 per year for children of 12 or under, and $240 per year for those from 12 to 18. This is both laughable and deplorable. I think that if the government stuck to the average salary principle, it should pay a minimum of $257 for the first category, and $334 for children from 12 to 18. This would at least help restore some balance in the family income, taking into account the average income level at present and the cost of living index.

So, the government is just making fun of Canadian families, and does not even offer the rate which it established back in 1945, considering the cost of living index and wage levels. It is giving less and less.

I am aware that we have serious problems in Canada. We are unfortunately the second largest country in the world. Canada has only some 20 million inhabitants, and

Family Income Security Plan

we face serious problems. Thus, we know that it would be easier to give a list of minerals we do not have than of those we do have. Mines are closing down.

Our land is so productive that western farmers have to stop sowing and are paid for so doing, because grain production is too high.

Here, in eastern Canada, we also face serious problems. We have too much milk, too much butter, too many shoes, too many textiles-too much of everything, really. What is scarce in Canada? Money!

Our fishermen have so much fish available that fishing has become unprofitable, because prices are too low. We even allow other countries to come and catch our surpluses 12 miles off our shores.

Our forest industry is also faced with a serious problem. We have so much hardwood that we have to grant other countries leases which allow them to come and exploit our rich forest for indefinite periods. The same problem arises in connection with our soft wood. We have too much of it. So, mills such as those in Trois-Rivieres and elsewhere in Quebec have to close and lay off workers.

Mr. Speaker, I would continue for hours on end in this manner. We have much too much of everything and, because of that, there are thousands of unemployed. And the government will not increase family allowances for fear of increasing too much the buying power. Consequently, goods remain on the shelves in the stores and plants shut down.

The government permits these allowances to be reduced more and more; compared with the average income, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The day is coming when our empoverished people, unable to find employment, will be faced with only one solution: to beget children. This plan is so discouraging that, when one thinks of it, either one laughs or one cries.

And, in addition to that, Mr. Speaker, payment of family allowances will be made on a selective basis, under Bill C-170. With this bill, we are re-enacting the absurd principle of depriving almost 40 p. 100 of all Canadian mothers of the allowances they now receive.

There are several aspects to this selectivity. First, we have the moral aspect. Every Canadian mother considers the family allowance cheque she has now been getting for the past 25 years as her sole personal income. I believe that for most of them, that money is the only one they do not have to wrench from their husbands. They do not have to beg month after month for that cheque which they receive on behalf of their children. To take away that cheque, whatever may be the husband's income, is absolutely unfair. This money represents a small measure of financial independence for them, but now, as I said a while ago, almost 40 per cent of those who do receive this cheque now will be deprived thereof.

The government will undoubtedly maintain that only the rich people will be affected. This is quite untrue, because under the new legislation, the gross income of both spouses will be added to make up the basic family income used for the computation of the allowance. People in Asbestos, Bromptonville, Windsor, Weedon, Disraeli, Richmond or anywhere else who earn $6,000 yearly can

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

hardly make both ends meet with four or five children at home. If one day the wife decides to help her husband by accepting a job in a restaurant which will bring in an additional $4,000 a year, then this family will no longer be entitled to family allowances.

I think that it is unfair. By introducing this selectivity feature, this government is running counter to its own statements. At this stage, I should like to quote the Comments and Recommendations made by the Canadian Council on Social Development on the Family Income Security Plan proposed in the federal government's White Paper of 1970, entitled "Income Security in Canada". This is a statement of policy which was published in 1971. I quote from page iii:

The Council believes that:

(a) (p. 10) Family allowances should be universal, paid to all families with dependent children as a social right thus avoiding divisiveness among families and any element of stigma. The present program-

This concerns the Family Allowances Plan.

-has this feature but F.I.S.P. would eliminate it.

This openly reproves the switch from universality to selectivity involved in this bill.

Further, on page 10 of their same document, one may read, and I quote:

Family allowances should be universal: i.e. paid to all families with dependent children. As such, they would be accepted as a basic social right and would avoid the division of these families into the "haves" and the "have-nots", eliminating any element of stigma in receiving the payments. This result is certainly evident in the present family allowances program in which the entire "community" of such families participates.

Mr. Speaker, in almost the same terms, the statement from the National Welfare Council, published in April 1971, on page 18, reads as follows:

The proposed Family Income Security Plan is very similar to the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Plan because it suggests that couples with children who are better off will finance the increase in benefits paid to "have not" families. Obviously, this explains why this should not be expected to solve the problem.

It must be noted that the National Welfare Council was established by federal legislation.

The government thus makes a clear distinction between the rich and the poor. Those who will receive the family allowances are the poor and the others the rich. Is that the just society of which we have heard so much? Is that the just society about which it is said that proper legislation will be passed in order to finally set it up?

Mr. Speaker, why was the universality principle done away with? Some might claim that it would have been too expensive to do otherwise. So, instead of forever having to start all over again, why did the government not simply bring in a universal plan regarding the changes we are now considering? And there was no need to worry. Through taxation it would have taken back from the rich what would have allegedly been overpaid. It would have had only to declare that family allowances were taxable income. Mothers would also have been able to keep their cheques and we would have had an appearance of equality in Canada.

I am against this principle of taxation, but as long as we are reasoning about the system, we might as well go the whole way. Here, it should primarily be admitted that the family allowance cheque should be considered as strictly belonging to the mother who gives birth to the child.

Furthermore, it would be well to point out that the bill does not provide for automatic increase in keeping with the cost of living. It would therefore be necessary to repeat every two years the process of adjusting family allowances to the cost of living and there will always be a lag for Canadian mothers regarding the income they receive under the family allowance plan, which is most unfortunate.

It is urgently necessary that family allowances be considerably increased, as the inquiry on poverty in Canada has irrefutably demonstrated. The inquiry established that poverty does exist in Canada, although we have a surplus of everything, as I was saying a few minustes ago. According to the report of the Special Senate Committee on poverty, the total poverty rate in Canada is 25 percent, representing almost five million Canadians who, according to the report, are considered to be living in poverty.

At this stage of my comments, I should like to quote a few extracts from the said report, as follows:

The welfare system, at all levels, costs Canadians more than six billion dollars a year, yet it has not significantly alleviated poverty let alone eliminated it. The problems grow; costs go up and up and will, in time, suffocate the taxpayer. The welfare system is increasingly unable to deal with the needs of its clients. It has failed to achieve its humanitarian goals. It deprives its recipients of dignity and provides no incentive or rewards to escape from poverty. It has become punitive and demeaning. It is a mess-a social wasteland and an economic morass.

And the report states further:

Working Poor

Sixty per cent of the poor are not on welfare. They are active members of the labour force, working for little more, or, in some instances, less than they would receive on welfare. For them, there is not even the semblance of social justice. There can be no good reason for their continued consent to a political, social, and economic system from which they receive so little.

Can we afford to maintain a system where going on welfare is more profitable than going to work?

Mr. Speaker, poverty is certainly an inadmissible curse in Canada.

In La Presse of Tuesday, November 11, 1969, one could read that milk consumption was decreasing in the province of Quebec. Why? Because mothers have no money to buy any. Meanwhile, farmers are penalized for producing too much milk. Every care is taken so that Canadians do not receive too much money. Incomes are definitely insufficient in Canada. All those citizens run into debt and so does Canada.

In La Presse of March 9, 1971, one could read, and I quote:

The indebtedness of Canadians with banks, stores and finance companies has increased by less than 5 per cent for the year 1970 and this raise in consumer credit has occurred only during the later half of that year-

As compared to 1969, when the indebtedness had undergone an increase of 14 per cent-

Personal unwarranted loans from chartered banks, the most common type of borrowing, have increased from $4.1 billion to $4.6 billion during the year-

April 19, 1972

Unsecured personal loans went from $1 billion to $1.2 billion, whereas loans against insurance policies rose from $660 million to $745 million.

For 1970, total consumer credit would therefore have amounted to about $11.3 billion.

In the same newspaper, under date of June 16, 1971, one could find the following:

28 per cent of the family budget is spent on debt reimbursement.

In Quebec, indebtedness is a virulent social sore. It exceeds the total government budget of $4 billion, for consumer goods only, said Mr. Normand Caron, of the federation of family savings associations at the annual assembly of the Quebec women's cooperative association.

One has no idea of the disasters it engenders for the individual or the community, stressed Mr. Caron, saying that the percentage of the family budget put aside for debt reimbursement rose from 8 per cent in 1955 to 28 per cent in 1969. .

According to the speaker, indebtedness puts the individual in a state of insecurity and tension and often leads to family disintegration on account of conflits it brings about between husband and wife.

Mr. Speaker, after such quotations, I do not believe it necessary to be an economist to realize that the Canadian people urgently need money and that the government has none. At least, so are we told. But, what is the government if not all the Canadian people?

In 1961, our gross national product reached $39 billion, or $2,143 per capita. Now, with all the sophisticated production facilities available, and also because the Canadian people work hard to succeed, our gross national product amounted to $84 billion in 1970. This means that our production capacity, which all Canadians should share, has more than doubled in 10 years.

Statistics show that the total income of Canadians, that is their purchasing power, amounted to $29 billion in 1961, a difference of $10 billion with the gross national product for the same year.

In 1970, the total income of Canadians amounted to $66 billion compared to a gross national product of $84 billion. As we can see, the gap is widening from year to year even though unemployment is increasing. How can Canadians manage not to get into debt when they only have $66 billion to purchase a production of $84 billion?

And we are aware of the current problems: unemployment, violence and poverty in the midst of an almost miraculous affluence. What are our problems? First, there is that of wealth distribution. This is a problem of justice and the government should take this opportunity to start once and for all distributing our wealth and helping the Canadian mothers by establishing a just society.

Why is the government so stingy when it comes to enabling Canadians to take advantage of their country's production? This is nonsense in 1972. There is no reason why family allowances should not be doubled and paid to all Canadian mothers. Even then it would not be enough, but it certainly would be a right step towards this just society I mentioned before and which everyone is yearning for.

What does the increase of $150 million that the minister was so proud to announce mean, when compared to a gap of nearly $20 billion of products which our wages and incomes do not allow us to buy?

Family Income Security Plan

They say that there would be inflation, that the value of our money would be reduced, that it has never been tried before, and so on. I do not believe so, Mr. Speaker.

My colleague, the honourable member for Bellechasse, proved on March 27 that this had been tried in the United States by Abraham Lincoln, more than a hundred years ago. As we already know, this great president of the United States, born of a humble but respectable family, contributed a great deal to the development of the United States, even though he was not an economist.

If I may, I shall quote a few lines from what my hon. friend had to say in this respect, as attendance was sparse in the House when he made his remarks. I quote:

International finance at that time had taken possession of America as well as Europe, keeping constant watch over its positions. One man dared one day insult it. He had to pay with his life. It was, I believe, the greatest president of the United States.

He was the son of a settler and never had the chance to go to school. But having learned to read from his mother and having studied law at night, after his hard day in the woods or in the fields, Lincoln finally became president of the United States at a critical time when the North and the South were at war.

Gifted with a staunch common sense and led by an unequalled rectitude of mind, Lincoln considered that if private banks make money and have people accept it, while passing it as debts, a sovereign government could make it as well and give it at least the same flexibility. So he asked Treasury Secretary Chase to float successively three issues totalling $450 million in 1862-1863.

In 1938, after a legal fight between financial powers and the government, $346 million were still in circulation, and had the same value as bank money.

Better still, contrary to the bankers' debt money, Lincoln's "greenbacks" did not saddle the United States public debt with one single dollar.

Had this issue come through the ordinary channel of banks, it would have increased the United States public debt from 1863 to 1938 by $10 billion, including compound interest. Were all their money issued by the government in that way, the United States would have no public debt.

The same can be said about Canada. The very existence of a public debt is the evidence of a defective system, of the money being corrupt right from the beginning.

I think that this is a very accurate statement and that we will never bring into effect distributive justice in Canada if we do not alter our indebtedness system by which the rich gets richer and the poor poorer; not the rich man who works, no, but the one who puts his money to work. In the winter, he basks in the sun on the southern beaches and in the summer, he lazes around our lakes fishing now and then, and in the meantime the worker pays exorbitant interests of 81 or 9 per cent for the fun of it.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like, as soon as this bill is referred to the relevant committee, that it be amended so that family allowances can be paid to mothers according to the cost of living and to the principle of universality.

Mr. Speaker, I greatly enjoy criticizing the government, but I do not like to criticize for critic's sake. I would like here to enlighten my fellow members. We, of the Social Credit party, claim to have imaginative solutions which would not be a cure-all because it is very hard to solve problems, since all money matters are by themselves somewhat difficult to tackle in view of the fact that money or the monetary system is always extolled by men. Since

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

man is not infallible, every monetary system has its problems. I do not give this expression the same meaning as does our Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), but I suggest that we should have a more just society and we should start, right this minute to reorganize it on a sound basis.

Moreover, I think that this bill is extremely difficult in terms of its administration and accounting system. All benefit scales are variable: the number of children, their age, the couple's income level or even that of single parents, what is and is not an income, and so on.

I believe that all the troubles arising out of the legislation now before us are almost identical to those of the new unemployment bill we have recently passed. Problems arise every day because of the intricacies of this legislation.

I think that we should look upon the new unemployment insurance act as an example and that the difficulties it is causing should warn us against passing another one like it.

We, of the Social Credit party, have the solution, I believe. And it is unfortunate that there are still people like us who are always suggesting worthwhile solutions to the government. But they do not want to understand. They do not want to amend an act which they recognize, which some of them recognize, as being obsolete and because this act was drafted by some officials, no changes are allowed. Even when we point out the flaws of a bill, the government will never want to make any change.

I am sorry for all those Canadians who have to submit to such a system. One of these days, and maybe sooner than the members opposite think, people will realize how irresponsible is the system under which the present government has held them, and will become aware of the quagmire of hardships and injustice in which they are still being kept back.

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

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Hillsborough):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words about this very important measure. I will not indulge in rhetorical repetition because that kind of repetition is no more valuable than most types of repetition.

I listened with great interest to the speeches delivered this afternoon and I support the remarks made on behalf of my party by my predecessors, notably the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Rynard) and the honourable and gallant member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe (Mr. Marshall). I listened carefully to the leader of the NDP who brought forth some very powerful arguments. I found myself less in agreement with the hon. member of the Social Credit party, although I agree totally with what he quoted his colleague as having said about the great Abraham Lincoln. That was not the only part of his speech with which I found myself in agreement. There are parts of this measure which are troublesome. I think every member of this Chamber realizes that something must be done about this sector of our social legislation, if I may call it that. We realize that gross and grave inadequacies have crept into the whole family allowance sector. So, to the extent that something is being done, even though at the eleventh hour, we are naturally in agreement.

It is a shocking thing, as other members have said, that in this country, so well endowed, so much poverty stalks this rich land, and that so many people have great difficulty coping with the day to day economic needs of themselves and their families. I am always struck and pained when I look upon the legislation in this country and use the gauge which the present government always uses in respect of affluence. I am sure that every member of this Chamber knows of countless veterans and old age pensioners who, day to day, are faced with the limits set by legislation. They write to us and ask, "Do you really think we can live with the amount which is listed as the ceiling for income?" I am sure that most of us know in our heart of hearts that they cannot live on those amounts which the cold bureaucracy has assigned to the citizen of Canada, whether he be a war veteran or an old age pensioner. They have so much and, therefore, they cannot get more. It is this definition of affluence that disturbs me.

I am worried, too, about something else. No matter how we camouflage it, no matter how many euphemisms we use, we are back again to the means test. You may call it something else, but we are back to the stage in this legislation where the citizen must go before some emanation of the state and give proof of poverty. I am just old enough, and I am not by any means the oldest man here being the same age as the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), according to a revision, to remember when the old age pension was attached to a means test. I remember all the frightful and humiliating arrangements which had to be made, with old people turning over their properties to their children, thinking this was only a token matter and everything would be fine. Many of these poor souls discovered later on that this was not a token matter, and unless they proved their poverty they ended up without their little farms or small holdings.

I am never at ease with any form of means test, and this measure troubles me. I wonder whether in looking at this legislation in general terms, and it has been well examined in all its particularity, we are not obviously here shifting some of the burden of society from one sector to another. It seems to me quite clear that we are increasing the burden on one sector; that sector which we might roughly and loosely call, and I am always leery about sociological definitions, the middle-class sector in economic terms. We are doing a little more than that with this legislation. We are laying an extra burden upon the middle class people with children because those without children do not feel any pinch from this.

Another thing which disturbs me is that while this bill may be presented-there is a certain amount of truth in this which the hon. member for Richmond (Mr. Beaudoin) mentioned-as representing a burst of new-found generosity, we all know when we examine it, even in the most perfunctory way, that the family purchasing power today is not what it was in 1940. So, let no one delude himself or the people of this country with the suggestion that we are moving into a great era of generosity. Another thing which troubles me is the growing ad hockery of the whole legislative program of the present government in reference to social welfare. We have this program, that program, and inconsistencies all across the line. In respect

April 19, 1972

of medicare, there was the utmost rigidity of formulae. Then, when we come to other techniques, we have all sorts of flexibilities which are sometimes so inflexible as to be incomprehensible.

My colleagues from all parts of the House, certainly from the opposition parties, have dilated upon the bureaucratic jungle which confronts not only the bureaucracy, which may be more familiar with that sort of thing, but also the victims of that hodge-podge. I am sure the cost of administering such a program will be absolutely enormous. We will have more and more agents of the state dealing with the citizens of society. This is, of itself, surely not a trend which people should recommend. The civil servants perform a fine role in society and most of them who I know are very fine people, but to advance the principle that there should be more and more emanations of the state dealing with the citizens is something I find not altogether welcome. I find, too, that there are areas in which we lack information. We do not know the whole story of the family allowance pattern or what will develop in reference to the new agreements we read about and have not been fully told about with one of the provinces. What does this mean for the future?

Another thing which always troubles me is that the human species fails to learn lessons which have been referred to in this Chamber and in committee each year time after time in respect of the inequities built into our old age security legislation because there is no automotic escalation for cost-of-living. Here we have another piece of legislation which would lead us to believe that this problem had never been brought to anyone's attention. This is another problem which faces us. I was impressed with what the hon. member for Richmond said about this piece of legislation being a callous, insensitive lack of appreciation for the role of motherhood in this society of ours.

I received a very interesting letter from a person who is obviously very intelligent, a mother of three children. She wrote some very cogent comments. I should like to read from this letter and, of course, since I read it, I endorse it:

One might logically decide to finance our war on poverty by taxing some of the more overpaid professions. But who could possibly believe that motherhood fits that description?

If there is any proposition which I have considered self-evident, it is that a mother earns every nickel of the family allowance. Yet the family allowance is commonly referred to as a government hand-out. And while in most areas of housework one can argue that a mother is working for herself, child care is the area where her contribution is undeniably to society as a whole.

Surely, if we have not abandoned completely our concept of the home and the mother, we would agree with that. What troubles me about this legislation is that someone has the idea that you take away something from many sectors of society and then you give that to help the others. I could perhaps embrace the idea of making a contribution to those who are clearly in need, but I cannot accept the idea that we should give the existing family allowance to a woman because she is poor and not because she is a mother, a mother of the children of Canada. I do not think it is at all progressive legislation to do otherwise. My correspondent, whose fine arguments I admire very much, goes on to say:

Family Income Security Plan

I am thinking of a friend of mine who has six children living at home, the eldest (age 20) attending university here. She no longer receives youth allowance for him of course but nevertheless she is getting over $400 a year in family and youth allowance, soon to be cut off. They can ill afford an extra bite like that, she counts every nickel.

And here is the clincher.

The childless couple next door to them, both working, are promised a 3 per cent tax reduction.

If that is the just society, I am Genghis Khan and I do not look like him at all. The Royal Commission on the Status of Women did not recommend this sort of finagling with the family allowance. It recommended that there be a higher universal family allowance. This group of people were commissioned to make a careful-and I believe they did-study of the status of women in our society, and this was the recommendation which issued from that illustrious group. I have heard someone say that the possibility of the system working is highly remote, and that if any citizen, after it got under way, could work his way through it he would deserve an extra bonus of some kind. I do not see that in the legislation. The hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis) spoke about the farmers. Many of my constituents are lobster fishermen. There is no way under Heaven one can predict that 1973 or 1974 or 1975 will be good years. There will be tremendous variations in the income of these people and the burden they will have in this constant calculation to qualify before the state for a certain level of assistance will become, as many people have said, a nightmare, a costly inequitous one and I am sure an unnecessary one.

Legislation should not be designed to be as complex as possible. The law should be as easily comprehended as possible. But, especially under this government, there would seem to be a desire to make the laws as sophisticated as possible. The bills before us are becoming longer and more difficult to comprehend. I do not know, is it McLuhanism? What is happening that we can no longer have a piece of legislation before us which says in more or less clear terms what it means? But I am also troubled about this legislation, and I always feel this about the means test, because it does not leave too much room for incentive.

The Ottawa Journal editorial of September 9, 1971, was a very good one, I thought, and I will quote part of it:

-But doubling family allowance cheques represents only a little levelling of the valley between rich and poor. The real challenge is to provide greater opportunity for more Canadians in their own land. The very need for larger family allowances and the growth of the unemployment rolls show how far that challenge is from being met.

I feel troubled about the legislation. I think this government and this parliament can do a much better job to cope with a very important problem. I think that in recognizing it as a problem we are not divided. We realize that there is a challenge for something to be done but we are terribly disturbed-certainly, I am disturbed-by the fact that, when action has been decided upon by the government, we have so much diffusion, confusion, and built-in distortions, iniquities and inequities which, I am afraid, will result in a most inadequate response to a clear and present social problem and social challenge. I think that

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

changes are called for and changes are needed. While we know that something must be done, while I do not withdraw from anything which my colleagues have said in speaking for our party, I still think that there is tremendous need to look at this matter and see if we cannot inject into the legislation a little more simplicity and straightforwardness and, much more important than that, a little compassion, a little consideration, a little regard for the families of this country, and that we do not go too recklessly ahead in taking away from one group of citizens in the hope of improving conditions for another. The thing to do is to improve conditions for both, and that is what I invite the government to do.

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

Ovide Laflamme

Liberal

Mr. Ovide Laflamme (Montmorency):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking for a few minutes on the amendment proposed by the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis), I would simply like to make a few remarks in the light of the speech he made earlier when we proceeded to government orders.

I would like to say how surprised I was to find that in such a proposal coming from the leader of the NDP, some people saw a purely demagogic attempt to try and establish the principle of universality in regard to family allowances.

When, on the one hand, the theory which he expressed earlier tends to show that too many people receive more from the government, and on the other hand, under Bill C-170 introduced by the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro), we try to give poor people greater assistance, I really fail to see and understand the substance of the amendment proposed by the member for York South, particularly when he tries to establish the principle of universality-which, in my opinion, reflects his complete irresponsibility in matters of social security and administration.

When, as was the case a moment ago, it is contended that the first concern, when passing social security legislation such as that dealing with family allowances, should be the needs of the recipients, I suggest that this is a distortion of the concept of social security. Such legislation was never conceived, and logically cannot be conceived to correspond directly to the needs of recipients, without taking into account the government's disbursement capacity.

As the hon. Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) realizes, every dollar added to family allowances for Canadian children would create an extra load of $80 million a year for Canadian taxpayers. It is also understandable that the principle of universal family allowances, established, as suggested by governments, at $15 a month for children under 12 and $20 a month for children up to age 18 would, if applied, represent close to $1 billion more in family allowances than the system recommended by the New Democratic party. And of course there is no mention of increased taxes, no indication as to where the Canadian Treasury could obtain these additional funds.

I sincerely believe that it is unmitigated demagogy to oppose such basic legislation which corrects past inadequacy and attempts to give more to those who most

need it, to push an amendment calling for universality of family allowances, to stir up regrets of those who will be losing their family allowances owing to force of circumstances, although the reasons therefor are well explained in the bill and indicated in the speech made by the Minister of National Health and Welfare. And I really do not see that anything serious can be added to the suggestions and proposals already brought forward.

Before considering carefully the proposed corrective measures designed to improve the family allowances plan, one must first say that the government intends to spend $150 million more in this area. And how does it go about it? Well, quite simply, by extending the age of eligible children from 16 to 18 years, by increasing the allowance to $15 for children of 12, and to $20 for those between 12 and 18. This will cost $150 million more, since the birthrate in Canada has dropped sharply and it is the government's duty to promote the birth-rate through an effective family allowances plan.

Of course, some heads of family who earn over $10,000 a year will no longer be eligible for family allowances. Those may be the families which the leader of the New Democratic Party tried to pit against the government, when the latter attempted to fight poverty through social legislation.

In my opinion, instead of fostering the hatred for the government of those who might lose their family allowances the New Democratic Party might have commended the government for having the courage to introduce a measure really designed to help the most needy in our society.

It is all very well, Mr. Speaker, to resort to all means, as the extreme right party is attempting to do. The hon. member said a while ago that they always wanted to double, multiply and remultiply social welfare measures because the money problem never did exist for them. Therefore, they can solve all issues this way.

Now, it seems to me that, before saying they will introduce welfare schemes, people who believe in reasoning, in thinking things over, and specially in making serious-minded people think things over, should be aware of our ability to pay. And if we do not have it, whenever they ask for new welfare measures, they should have the courage to say who will be taxed more in order to pay for those welfare measures, if they do not want to slip into the habit of the extreme right party-take out the "money machine" and print all you need.

There is no other logic than that, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, coming back to that philosophy, it is always the same thing in Parliament: whenever the government introduces a welfare measure, whenever they decide to give another $150 million for the families who need it most, we can see the opposition members rise in their seats. They would like the amounts to be doubled and tripled but they do not say who will have to pay.

Therefore, if we follow the thinking of the New Democratic party, we would have to find from $400 to $500 million more to apply universality to family allowances, unless they actually say that $15 per month for children

April 19, 1972

up to 12 years of age is too much, or else that $20 per month for children from 12 to 18 is still too much.

Now, if those two scales are to remain the same, it would cost from $400 to $500 million more to apply the universality principle to family allowances. I should like the New Democratic party, which in spite of that is proposing an amendment to this important bill, to tell us where it will get the extra $400 million and from whom through taxes. Then it will show that it has courage and stands behind its actions and is not only indulging in the sad demagogy that we witnessed a while ago.

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

Léonel Beaudoin

Social Credit

Mr. Beaudoin:

You are aware only of the tax machinery.

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

Ovide Laflamme

Liberal

Mr. Lallamme:

I did not understand the remark of the hon. member for Richmond (Mr. Beaudoin). I believe that a while ago he read a speech that was prepared by somebody else, but I should like simply to point out to him that I am not very much in the habit of overtaxing the kindness of hon. members, as do the hon. members from the extreme right while taking the floor in and out of season and saying a lot of things that do not get us anywhere.

For instance, while a bill such as this is under consideration this afternoon in the House and irresponsible speeches are made, I think that instead of keeping listening to them, my duty is to tell some of them that they should have enough courage to talk with responsible people in their ridings and at least abide by some logical reasoning if they want the debate to progress.

For once in the whole history of social security legislation, we are going to make a correction by preventing, through adjustments which will take into account the number of children in a family, people with an annual income of over $10,000 from receiving family allowances, which will instead be paid to low-income families and to children who most need them.

This is justice and redistribution. Of course, a party which is preparing an election and wants to please the voters must try to prove that those who will lose their family allowances have cause for complaints and to say, as the NDP leader did earlier, that this will give nothing to the children depending on welfare.

It is a fact that welfare recipients come under the jurisdiction of public agencies. Naturally, whether they get $15, $20, $25 or $30, the public agencies will keep on meeting their needs and paying for their education. In a province such as Quebec, which I know very well, monthly family allowances of $15 or $20, those we are talking about, will be paid to all children. This will have a beneficial effect on the social welfare budget because when $15 will actually be paid instead of $8 as before, or when $20 will be paid instead of $12 to large and needy families, this will substantially reduce the taxpayers' burden.

In this connection, I did not understand the flights of oratory of the hon. member for York South, when he suggested that the children on social welfare will not be getting a cent more. In my opinion, this is playing with words. It is like an old man who is being cared for in an institution. Obviously, even if the old age security pension is increased, he may not get more since part of his needs are provided for in the welfare budget. This does not

Family Income Security Plan

mean, however, that what is involved is not clearly and in a secure manner-because this is a time to talk of security-the assurance of greater government assistance and of a healthier and fairer redistribution of family allowances, particularly in respect of children who most need them.

I say it again, Mr. Speaker: as long as we take the time, in new social security legislation like the bill we are going to pass, to correct errors and to use government resources to better advantage, the taxpayers' money will go to the children, to the classes in society, who most need it.

Without trying to give a lecture, I would say that this does not meet the vital needs of children. There are two well-defined approaches in this matter: the first whereby, subject to the state's paying ability, the riches are redistributed to the people who need them most; the second, which is unacceptable, whereby we should pay the full amount of the allowance to those who need it most.

Indeed, those who favour the second approach do not hold the responsibility of imposing the necessary taxes, so much so that, in general, the workers are evidently overburdened with taxes.

And if it is intended to earmark-because it is difficult to fall back in such a system-an additional amount of $400 or $500 million, those working sectors of society will, of course, have to sacrifice part of their income.

A disagreement might arise between the New Democratic party and the Liberal party when the enforcement of this measure by the Liberal party will mean that household heads earning in excess of $12,000, perhaps as a result of the number of their children, will cease to receive family allowances.

They will claim that an income of $12,000 a year is insufficient for one's livelihood or maintenance. This is a matter of interpretation, but I think that the people are able to judge by themselves.

I, for one, have convened forums in my riding to discuss this question. Those people earning $12,000 a year, or more, are normally capable of understanding the rationale behind this new legislation and even though they cease to receive family allowances, they are told by those who earn $8,000, $7,000, $6,000 and $5,000 a year: If I earned $12,000 a year, I would not need family allowances since that income would be sufficient.

In concluding my remarks, I would only say that we can go on making speeches and resorting to demogoguery on this question, but we should this once try and point out the correcting element of this bill. This characteristic should also find its way in all other pieces of legislation if we want to avoid reaching a point where the state will rely on individual incomes to try and guarantee complete security and well-being.

I do not think we have reached that economic stage yet. Indeed, we should be honest enough to recognize that if the resources of the state are sufficient to enable it to hand out gifts and donations in the future, the state being now unable to apply the principle of universality extolled by the NDP, has at least brought down essential measures, has seriously rectified the situation, is willing to pay

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Family Income Security Plan

an additional amount of $150 million and is endeavouring to better help needy families. On this basis, Mr. Speaker, the government and the people of Canada will appreciate the merits of this legislation.

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

Max Saltsman

New Democratic Party

Mr. Max Saltsman (Waterloo):

Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments to make on the bill, but before getting into those I should like to deal with some of the remarks made by the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Laflamme). I have not heard this hon. member speak very often in this House, but I must say that he is a very able speaker. I listened carefully to what he had to say and I was impressed with his style. But I do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that he has more brass than I have seen exhibited by any member of this House for a long time. I wish the hon. member spoke oftener because he is very good, but I would have been far more impressed if he had not raised the question of whether or not we can afford this program. I would have been more impressed had he argued during the tax debate for a more equitable taxing system to be applied to the mining companies with the same kind of fervour that I argued for the working people of this country. I would have liked to hear him say we should get the money from that source because that would have evoked far more sympathy than his present argument.

I would have been far more impressed if he had talked about the half million dollars going to Quebec under the DREE program rather than saying we cannot afford family allowances or bilingualism or the many other programs. Mr. Speaker, I say that there are many things we can afford in this country. We can well afford to encourage the people of Quebec in industrial development; we can well afford the bilingualism program but we can also well afford to have a fair and equitable arrangement for every Canadian who needs assistance to raise his family. That means everyone, and that is why the program has to be universal.

Let us not forget what the family allowance program is all about. The Liberal party is taking every sensible program that has been brought into being in this country and turning it into a welfare program. Family allowance is not welfare; it is, in a sense, the community saying that the market system distorts the allocation of resources, that our market system is not fair because it does not take into account a man's needs. The system does not care whether he has ten children or no children at all. The purpose of the family allowance is to redress that inequity in the market system, and that redress has to be applied at every income level in our view. The place for taxation is in the income tax scheme. That is the scheme you use to take from those who have more, by which you decide at what level you are going to tax. But you do not take away the family allowance or the old age pension and make people pay into an unemployment insurance fund. If we continue in this path, Mr. Speaker, a new revolt will take place in our society led by the man in the middle income bracket who is being squeezed to pieces.

The greatest enemies of poverty are the people who bring in inequitable programs of this kind. If we are to solve the problem of poverty in Canada, we must enlist the support of those in the middle income groups, those who pay the bulk of the taxes. If they become disenchant-

ed at any stage with the programs designed to combat poverty and feel they are being unfairly treated, that will be the end of any sensible approach to a war on poverty. We are on the edge of that, Mr. Speaker. We cannot say to a man with an income of $8,000 or $9,000 a year and a couple of children that he is not entitled to any adjustment. His own income may only be about $5,000 a year, the remainder coming from his wife who works the night shift in a textile mill in order to meet the payments on the house. Is he to be told that the family allowance does not apply to him? The minister had only so much money, but he had to make this program look as attractive as possible so he took money from one pocket and put it into another.

We feel that if plans of this type are continued, they will destroy the sympathy of the Canadian people who have always been sympathetic to the need for social legislation. A sense of alienation will be created in our society. Just look around and see what is happening. The group that has to pay the cost is becoming smaller; it is no longer a pyramid. The people who are paying the shot are the middle group. They have to support the young who are staying in school much longer and it is costing more to keep them there. They also have to support the old who, fortunately, are living longer. Also, people want to retire earlier with some sort of decent income so that they can live the last few years of their lives in comfort. The group in the middle is being asked to pay for all this; they are willing to pay and have paid.

I am very proud of the people of this country, not because we win wars and other things, but because we introduced the old age pension and the family allowance. This is the greatness of Canada, the fact that there are people in this country who are willing to take from their own resources in order to help others not much worse off than themselves. We must not destroy that willingness; we must not destroy the cohesion of our society.

When my leader was speaking, I looked at the minister and detected genuine surprise on his face. He seemed really surprised because we would not support this bill. I have known the minister for a long time, and have always regarded him highly. I do not like to see him surprised. Probably, he wants to know what happened. I can tell him. Time after time, the members of this party have gone along with measures of which they have not entirely approved. We have gone along with them because we thought it was best. The same can be said for the members of other parties. Even members of the Liberal party have arrived at some kind of compromise on some pieces of legislation. We are now reaching the point where we cannot continue that course; we must take a stand. If we do not take a stand, there is a great danger that what I have alluded to will happen. The ordinary people of our society may no longer be willing to meet the needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

May I now refer to some other debates. When the government froze the old age pension and brought in the guaranteed income supplement, we went along with the bill, even though we were not entirely happy with it. True, in one way it destroyed the principle of universality; however, many in my party were divided on it. Many felt that even though the bill abandoned in large part the principle

April 19, 1972

of universality, we should support it because, after all, it would give something more to the poor. Some kind of universality was preserved and the poor were to get additional benefits. Those arguments prevailed and we supported that bill. In a sense, that bill preserved some kind of universality.

What has been our experience with old age pensions. Has the principle of universality actually been retained; no, it has not. True, everyone is entitled to the old age pension of $80, but the pension is frozen at that level. Every year, the benefits to old age pensioners provided by that pension are being eroded. Every old age pensioner who does not get the supplement is being cheated. Trouble is brewing in that area. I think we all get letters from old age pensioners who cannot keep up with costs. Such letters are full of bitterness. For instance, some say, "just because I saved a few dollars, why should I be penalized." Others say, "merely because I get a small pension, does that mean that I must fall further and further behind?" That is what these people are saying, and that is happening. Before long such voices will become more strident. Those people will insist on justice being done.

We made a mistake by not insisting that some escalator provision be included in the basic old age pension. That mistake resulted in a basic denial of justice to old age pensioners of this country. I do not want the same sort of mistake to be made with this plan. For some, the escalation of benefits under this plan will be zero. It is interesting to note that the socialist government of Manitoba recently brought down a budget that made provision for a system of educational tax credits. These were geared to income. What is particularly interesting is that there were minimum benefits for all, regardless of income. That plan recognized that we have an obligation to all. People of all income brackets, including people in the lower brackets, were given benefits under the plan. Mr. Speaker, if you want to reduce inequities, the proper way is not by doing it indirectly through old age pensions, family allowances or unemployment insurance, but through the Income Tax Act.

The government's arguments about not being able to raise the necessary money, and similar arguments, do not impress me. After all, the government brought in what it called a progressive tax system which, nevertheless, left wide loopholes open for those who support that party. I am not saying this was done intentionally; nevertheless, it worries me to see that certain taxpayers are provided with benefits that are not available to others. In light of that, one can become pretty cynical about such cries from the other side as, "where are we to get the money?" I would have been far more impressed with what the hon. member for Montmorency said if, when high unemployment figures were mentioned in the House-I am speaking of times when unemployment reached astronomical heights-he had risen in his place and said to the government, "this is wrong; you should not create unemployment in an effort to fight inflation." If he had said that, I would have been impressed. I did not hear him say that.

Since we are talking about costs and where the money will be found, let me mention some figures relating to unemployment. Mr. Speaker, for every one per cent of unemployment in this country, we lose over $1 billion in

Family Income Security Plan

gross national product, one third of which would become government revenue. As a result of unemployment levels prevalent during the past few years of Liberal rule, it can be said that government revenues have declined by over $1 billion. Mr. Speaker, we kicked away $1 billion. How much money would it take to establish the kind of program we talk about? An equitable program of family allowances for all families in Canada would cost far less than that. This government has been willing to waste people and waste resources. It has created unemployment to fight inflation, and hardly a dissenting voice was raised from the government's back benches; yet, when we want to establish a fair family allowances program, the old cry is heard: "where will the money come from." Oh yes, they say "the NDP wants this; those great spendthrifts over there, they want to establish this kind of program. They want to give money away." I say the government has not been giving it away; it has been throwing it down the drain and no one has benefited.

What the government has been doing we find unsatisfactory. It is dismantling all those programs of which we have become proud. I am not speaking only for members of my party; I think members of all parties are proud of what we have achieved; and, certainly, many Canadians are, too. You know, at one time you could brag to other people by saying, "although your buildings may be taller than ours and although there may be more smog in Los Angeles than in Canadian towns, every old age pensioner of Canada is entitled to a certain pension." That pension was not paid as charity; it was paid as of right. Those people had worked to build up this country. Our older people made contributions to the tax system and through the sales tax. They were entitled to a pension, and their right was our source of pride. We felt the same way about family allowances, and we felt the same pride. Now, that pride has gone. These have all become welfare programs.

I might understand the government's attitude if these injustices perpetrated against people in the middle income group were to be matched by substantial improvements in the lot of the poor. Yet, I am afraid that they are not to be so matched by substantial improvements. What my leader said is only too true. To the extent that you place people on welfare, the welfare system will accommodate them. To the extent that certain payments which come out of the family allowances pocket, so to speak, are to be increased, the payments which come out of the Canada Assistance Plan pocket are to be reduced. When the former minister of labour introduced the amended Unemployment Insurance Act, he said, "Oh yes, we will take people off welfare, because those now on welfare will collect unemployment insurance." He was not wrong. We took people off the welfare rolls as a result of passing that amended Unemployment Insurance Act. What he said was not far from the truth, because that amended act, instead of adhering to the principle of insurance as the previous unemployment insurance act had, became to a large extent a welfare program. This sort of thing goes on and on but there is a limit to how much people are willing to take in this field. Perhaps they are close to that limit now.

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

Paul Yewchuk

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Paul Yewchuk (Athabasca):

Mr. Speaker, in dealing with changes in the family allowances structure, as pro-

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Family Income Security Plan

posed under Bill C-170, it might be reasonable to consider the whole question of poverty in Canada and our method of dealing with it. I think we are all aware of the fact that over the past six years the budget of the federal government for welfare has doubled from somewhere around $2.4 billion to $5 billion. We are aware also there have been many programs of one type or another which were originally designed to deal with one phase or another of the poverty situation in Canada. In general, what we have seen has been a piecemeal approach which has failed to come to grips with the real issues and fundamental problems that people below the poverty line face. As a result of this piecemeal approach, we have not reached any kind of a reasonable solution to this whole question of poverty.

I am a little amazed at this particular government which came in with a slogan of which we are all aware, but which they would rather forget. They have been resistant to taking a new and bold initiative in this area of combating poverty, a new approach to the welfare problem and a general re-assessment of whether the old programs have been of any real value in dealing with this whole question of poverty. What we have seen in the past four years have been marginal modifications of this or that old program, little adjustments here and there and tinkering with things that have been ineffective in the past. Under the present circumstances, such actions will continue to be ineffective in the general area of overcoming poverty in this country. As examples of this kind of tinkering, adjustments were made in the old age security program, the unemployment insurance program and adjustments are now being proposed in the family allowance and youth allowance program. In fact, this bill is just further tinkering. It does not really come to grips with the problems that face the country. It is a continuation of a traditional approach which has proven itself to be inadequate in dealing with the problem with which we are faced, namely the eradication of poverty on a permanent basis.

I do not deny that some of these modifications of old programs have, in small ways, had some beneficial effects for some people, but I do not deny that they have had any real significant effect from the point of view of eradicating poverty from that one fifth of our population that is unable to do it on their own. We must consider some bold new approaches. We must take a more progressive look at what really needs to be done to solve this problem or at least give the impression of seriously wanting to solve the problem. I am not saying it will ever be possible to completely eradicate poverty, but it has been shown that piecemeal approaches in the past have failed. Continuation of piecemeal approaches in the future will not likely be any more successful. We need to look at the development of a co-ordinated approach to the whole problem. There should be a co-ordination and consolidation of the various types of programs which we now have. The whole structure should be a more efficient and less costly proposition, certainly from the administrative point of view.

One of my major criticisms of this bill is that it does not come to grips with the problem of an incentive to become self-sufficient, more productive and more capable of looking after one's self and one's own dependents. It is simply a little larger hand-qut to a certain group. It is nothing

more than that. It would be reasonable to suggest amendments accordingly. I also want to say that, realizing we have to deal with the bill which is before the House rather than the general question of overcoming poverty in this country, I have ambivalent feelings about the bill. I support about half of it and disagree with the other half. This is a problem I have faced in this House on many occasions in the past. You come to the situation of what to do. You cannot vote for each half separately. You have to decide whether or not to vote for the whole package.

We have heard a lot of talk today about the question of universality and selectivity. In general terms, my tendency is to support selectivity. However, I think this bill covers more than the question of whether you support selectivity or universality in the family allowance program. This bill also touches a part of life which I would place in the category of established rights of Canadians, something Canadians have enjoyed for more than 20 years. For this reason, Canadians have come to feel there are established rights. When we talked about the language bill, we talked about certain Canadians who had certain language rights in certain areas. It was felt they should not be deprived of these because they fell into the category of established rights. I think that the family allowance program, as it has existed, quite easily fits into this category of established rights.

I agree that people with a high personal income do not expect a continuation of the allowance because they need it for economic reasons, but they probably consider it to be an established right which they have enjoyed for many years. What have these people done with the allowance they have been receiving? I think in the lower income group it is fair to say they have spent it in the direction that it was intended, for the purchase of clothing, possibly school books and contributing to shelter as well as the other basic needs that Canadian children in their growing years require.

We know that in the middle or higher income groups, this allowance was not particularly used for these purposes. In many cases, investment plans were established for the children involved. When the time came for a secondary education, a fund existed to assist these children to continue their education. For that reason, it will probably upset the parents in this category substantially. What has been a savings plan contributed to through the receipt of a cheque from the government will now have to be continued by a contribution from their own income.

I want to deal briefly with the fact there was a substantial increase in income tax last September for most Canadians. I recall the then Minister of Finance saying that the income tax bill would remove from the income tax rolls somewhere in the vicinity of 3/4 of a million Canadians. That, of course, was a great fallacy. I have in my possession a letter from an official of the Department of Finance. The true figure is more like 30,000 or 40,000 who will be removed from the income tax rolls. Those in the middle or higher income group will experience a very marked increase in their taxation. For this reason, I object to removing the family allowance payments from the middle income group. These people have already been imposed upon very strenuously by the income tax legislation which was rammed through the House last December

April 19, 1972

by the use of that very democratic principle known as closure. Removal of the established right which these people have come to enjoy has the same effect as increasing their income tax that much more.

While I do not support the idea of universality in all areas of social welfare, I do not think it is contradictory to say that I cannot approve the removal of family allowances from the middle income group. Bearing in mind the measures recently taken to increase taxation, I believe that if these allowances are removed from the middle income group a corresponding reduction should be made in the income tax to compensate for the change. We have heard some members ask: Where will the money come from? I shall comment on this aspect in a few moments. To elaborate further on my point, we might draw a comparison at this point between family allowance and the old age security pension. Here, provision is made for a basic pension which everyone receives as an established right, if you like-a contribution by the state to senior citizens who have contributed throughout their lives to the productivity, growth and development of this country. They receive this benefit even though they may not need a pension. They are still entitled to it as a reward for their efforts on behalf of the country in the past. I would be inclined to say that the family allowance which is now distributed to Canadians across the board should continue for the same reasons. I recognize, though, that the allowance as it presently stands is nowhere near sufficient to meet the needs of those who live below the poverty line. For these people, I would suggest a plan somewhat similar to the guaranteed income supplement granted in certain cases to old age pensioners, a supplement which would be based on need and which would be more realistic in terms of meeting the basic needs of the children of poverty-stricken families.

Where will the money come from? Hon. members will gather that I am suggesting not necessarily a redistribution at this time but an additional expenditure which will prove of assistance to a particular segment of our population. In the first place, it could come from the revenue produced by the massive increase in income tax which was imposed last December. There is no question that this increased taxation will produce a very substantial return to the federal treasury by way of general revenue. Then again, large amounts of money might be saved by abolishing useless structures such as Information Canada which in my view is an unforgiveable waste of the taxpayers' money, established basically for the propaganda purposes of the Liberal party. No one, I think, doubts that this particular institution is of little value and cannot justify its existence in terms of its present cost. There are other areas in which money could be saved for the purposes I have indicated, areas of expenditure which the Auditor General has characterized as wasteful and inefficient. Large sums could be saved by more efficient planning, by more realistic projection of the cost of new structures. I have in mind, for example, the National Arts Centre, the final cost of which was more than double the original estimate; I think of the money wasted on the Bonaventure and on the hydrofoil project, of huge sums spent on the purchase of aircraft which, in fact, the defence depart-

Family Income Security Plan

ment did not need. One need only glance at the report of the Auditor General to find examples of millions of dollars wasted in this way.

I will summarize briefly, Mr. Speaker. In my view, we should not deprive the middle income group of an established right, although I realize that people in the lower income group need a greater measure of assistance. We should do something about this. The bill is, really, a useless tool in the general endeavour we ought to be making to combat poverty among one-fifth of our population. We should be looking toward something much more progressive and much broader in scope, including incentives to individuals to increase their productivity through seeking methods of improving their skills and earning capacity. A massive co-ordinated effort should be made to combine all the existing piecemeal programs into one, thereby making the administration less expensive, and putting together all the forces which are presently working separately into one combined operation which would offer a much greater possibility of success in dealing with the poverty which now exists in our country.

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

Roderick J. (Rod) Thomson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Rod Thomson (Battleford-Kindersley):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated some of the remarks which were made by the hon. member for Athabasca (Mr. Yewchuk), particularly his suggestions as to the way in which more money could be raised for programs such as this. Certainly, I think some of it might be recovered from what the government misspends, for which we receive no adequate reward.

During a visit to Newfoundland, I heard someone say that many of the housewives of that province gave Joey Smallwood the credit for the baby bonus. This individual said Joey Smallwood did nothing to discourage these women from thinking that way. It is true that the baby bonus was started, as far as Newfoundland is concerned, when it joined Confederation and obviously these women appreciated receiving this money. Certainly, they needed it and it did much for the poor people of that day.

I am a bachelor so I do not receive any baby bonus, and I was too old for my parents to get it. We live in an age during which a man who has a way with a woman will get a bonus from the government in the sense that his wife receives a cheque from the government to help raise the children. If anybody in this country is discriminated against, I suggest it is the bachelor. Unlike the minister, I can make no claim to having a way with women. I should like to find out from him something about his attitude toward this bill. I have asked housewives what they think about it in order that I might be able to make some comments on what they believe should be included in a bill of this kind. I have found that wives who feel they might lose this baby bonus cheque are very indignant. If the minister does not think this is the fact, I suggest he go out in the country and talk to these people.

I have often suggested to these women that their husbands are making good money, and have asked what difference the change in this measure would make to their income position. I have been told that these women consider this money as theirs, in comparison with family money. They budget on the basis of receiving it. I suggest

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

that once you establish a precedent by allowing a wife a separate form of income, she will be very unhappy if you take it away. Perhaps this is a social problem, but if the minister is going to take away the baby bonus he better pass a law requiring husbands to give allowances to their wives to replace this lost income. I heard one woman, in the presence of her husband, suggest that if she was not going to get the baby bonus he would have to give her so much money. Perhaps the minister would consider some appropriate change in the legislation to this effect if he intends to remove this particular income from the pocket-books of these women.

Let me talk for a moment about the universality of legislation we have before us, or the lack of it in this particular case. The question is selectivity versus universality. The government is not being consistent in its approach to this particular problem. The Minister of Labour (Mr. O'Connell) and the Minister of Manpower (Mr. Mackasey) are both involved in this field and they insist on universality, yet the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) emphasizes selectivity. There is inconsistency here, and I cannot understand why, if universality is good in respect of unemployment insurance, it should not be good in respect of the baby bonus. The minister should discuss this matter with the Minister of Manpower. Perhaps the other ministers would come into this Chamber and discuss this particular aspect of the legislation. We have heard the minister of health arguing in favour of selectivity. I should like to hear what the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Manpower have to say with regard to their preference for universality. If one can argue in favour of universality on the one hand, why could the same argument not be applied on the other? This is a reasonable request. We should have some consistent approach by government in these various measures.

The cost of living has increased by leaps and bounds and we are only now getting around to increasing the baby bonus for some people. We are going to take it away from others. I do not know whether you have children, Mr. Speaker, but I certainly do not. However, I am sure you can appreciate the problems of a housewife in clothing and feeding children. I have been asked on many occasions by housewives how much I thought it cost for children's clothes, and how much it cost to pay a babysitter to look after the children while the housewife went out to work to increase the family income. I was frankly horrified when I was told of these costs. These people do not have grandmothers who will take care of the children for nothing as used to be the case; they now pay for such services. The fees charged by babysitters are often high enough that these people have to pay income tax on their earnings. I suggest the cost of raising a family is tremendous, and often even too much for those with better than average incomes or two incomes in a family.

I was discussing this matter with a young couple in my constituency. The young chap said he would rather have an increase in his exemptions for children than a grant or increase in the baby bonus. I suggested that might be alright for him because he had a fairly adequate income but would not be suitable for those whose income is not adequate, and that a baby bonus increase would be more realistic. There is a great deal of interest among the people of my constituency in this bill. As a bachelor, I

naturally did not pay as much attention as I might otherwise have to this particular measure, but when the news reports about it came out, and after wives had a chance to consider them, I know they became very concerned. They are particularly concerned as to how this measure will affect them. Naturally, those in lower income brackets who will receive an increased grant are happy about this measure. I suggest they need that additional money and I commend the minister in this regard. However, those who will receive less or nothing at all will not be happy and some awkward political problems may develop for the minister. I should like to listen to a number of women asking him questions about this particular legislation, and I should like to hear the answers he might give.

Let me refer to the administrative problems involved in such a measure as this. The government will have to decide which people in which income brackets will receive money and which will not. This reminds me of the story about a farmer back in my part of the world who had a hired man. One day he went to town and gave the hired man a job of sorting potatoes into three different groups according to quality. The hired man, who normally is an excellent hard-working individual, was all played out when the farmer returned. The farmer asked him why he was all played out and the hired man replied that it was because of all the decisions. I suggest that the administrative cost in respect of a situation of this nature will outweigh some of the advantages derived from the money saved by not paying those who have larger incomes.

It seems to me a plan should be quite simple in its construction so that everybody can understand it. Anyone looking at the different clauses in this bill, trying to determine what they mean and how they will affect him, will find difficulty. For instance, farmers ask me whether it is gross income that is involved and I tell them that, logically, it should be the net income. Some of the confusion I believe comes from what I would call the administrative problem in respect of different levels of income. There would not be this problem if we had the universality concept because every one would receive the benefit. The point has been made today that awkward social problems are involved in a community where people have to prove income. I think this is unpleasant to all of us. One does not always like his neighbour to know what his income is, although it might be evident in some cases. I like to think we are moving toward a classless society. It would seem that the reverse is the case. When we do things of this nature, we introduce an old concept about those who have and those who have not. This is something from which I believe we would be wiser to move away.

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

Thomas Speakman Barnett

New Democratic Party

Mr. Thomas S. Barnett (Comox-Alberni):

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the speech of the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) on the motion for second reading on March 24, the thought crossed my mind that I was listening to the best condemnation of the policies of the present administration I had heard in quite a long time. Last night as I listened to the debate and observed the Minister of National Health and Welfare and the former Minister of National Health and Welfare, now the

April 19, 1972

President of the Privy Council (Mr. MacEachen), shall I say skulking around the vicinity of the Chamber, I thought that perhaps the minister, along with his colleague, was realizing the mistake he made in introducing this bill. I have had a good deal of affection and respect for both these ministers to whom I have listened and whom I have watched in this House over a period of years. However, I have been wondering just what has been going on in the back of their minds. I am convinced both of them realize this bill is a very basic mistake.

I would say frankly to the Minister of National Health and Welfare, who is here, and to the President of the Privy Council if he were here at the present time, that my respect for each of them would increase very substantially if either or both of them were to resign from the government of which they are members on this very issue. I think they realize this bill is a step backward, a step not in keeping with the best traditions of the Liberal Party. Indeed, so far as I am concerned, the action which has been taken by the government in introducing this bill confirms something which has been growing in my mind during most of the years I have been in this House, that is, that actually the real Liberals are becoming fewer and fewer within the ranks of a party which calls itself the Liberal party of Canada. Over the years, the party to which I belong and its predecessor have been associated in the minds of a great many of the people of Canada with what is often referred to as a welfare state. That term, in the minds of some people, at least in this country, has rather an unpleasant connotation. Actually, it has been difficult for those of us who belong to the party to which I belong, those of us who consider ourselves to be democratic socialists, to make clear to the people of Canada that we are the party which is unalterably opposed to the welfare state.

Many spokesmen of this party over a long term, and I cite such members who are sitting here in front of me as the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Winch) and the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), have made many eloquent speeches and have fought many battles on the question of the level of poverty which exists in this country. They have argued that effective measures should be taken to deal with it. Many people have tended to equate that concern for poverty and that concern for the things which happen to people who are poor, particularly when they suffer from accidents or ill health or other misadventures, with an advocacy of the welfare state. I think this one particular step taken by the present government drives home the difference between the position we take in this party and the position of the government. It is now becoming abundantly clear that the advocates of the welfare state, with all its unpleasant connotations, are the people who sit on the government side of the House. They believe in welfare for the rich as well as for the poor, and they want the rest of us to shoulder the burden.

I believe that point was made very well a short time ago by the hon. member for Waterloo (Mr. Saltsman), when he dealt very effectively in my opinion with some of the nonsense that was being peddled by the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Laflamme). It is quite true, as the hon. member for Waterloo said, that the hon. member for Montmorency is an eloquent speaker even when one has

Family Income Security Plan

to listen to a good part of what he has to say through an interpreter. I did listen to that speech, and despite its eloquence, I have to say it sounded like a worn-out phonograph record. I have listened to it time after time from people who supported the present government and some of its predecessors when welfare measures of this type were introduced.

I listened to speeches of this type, for example, during the great fanfare when the Liberal administration under Mr. St. Laurent introduced such acts as the Blind Persons Act and the Disabled Persons Act. After studying the fine print, we found these welfare measures meant, as someone said, that one had to be confined to a stretcher, so far as disabled persons allowances were concerned, and unable to lift more than one finger.

We have listened to this kind of debate when we have had arguments about the levels of benefit that should be paid under the War Veterans Allowances Act, the Old Age Assistance Act, under the Canada Assistance Plan, and indeed to a certain extent under such measures as the Canada Pension Plan which was introduced with fanfare as something which would provide a pension as a matter of right as a result of contributions paid into it. It is only now beginning to register on some of the people who thought they had accumulated pension rights under the Canada Pension Plan that it, too, has its social welfare aspects. If anyone accepts a casual job and earns more than $75 in any one month, his pension is reduced accordingly.

It does not matter where one turns in the record of legislation brought in under governments calling themselves Liberal, we have this building of what many people describe as a welfare state. In distinction to that, there have been one or two measures introduced which, in my view, did not have welfare state implications. One of them was the universal Old Age Pension Plan and the other was the family and youth allowances plans.

When the minister introduced the bill, he said, and I quote from page 1133 of Hansard of March 24:

With this bill, two universal payment plans are being replaced by a family income security plan based on the guaranteed income concept.

One could argue whether what is in this bill could be equated with a guaranteed income concept, but I do not intend to launch upon that particular argument at this time. What I am trying to emphasize is that in this bill as well as an earlier bill with which we dealt in respect of the freezing of old age pensions and the introduction of what the government called the guaranteed income supplement, we have abandoned the trend which some of us hoped might be expanded by the present government toward universality. Because of the way this measure has been developed, we have moved further in the direction of providing, under the auspices of the present government, welfare for the rich and welfare for the poor with the mass of people in between footing the bill. I suggested that the minister, in his speech, had really condemned the general policy of the government to which he belongs. I think one of the figures in his speech which, to me at least underlines this, is the statement that he made in regard to

April 19, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

what he refers to as the impact of the FISP proposal. On page 1134 he is recorded as saying:

Full benefit under FISP will go to 1,249,000 families, or 35.5 per cent.

That is a straightforward statement from a minister of the government indicating that 35.5 per cent of the families in Canada are at the income level of $4,500, with perhaps a little above that for those who have large families. That is an admission of the general results of the policies of the government which have left 35.5 per cent of the families in Canada able to qualify for full benefits under this plan. That is an indication of the tacit acceptance of the government of the perpetuation of this welfare state concept, and an indication that apparently they are satisfied that from those in the middle income brackets they will have to take funds to support 35.5 per cent of the families in Canada.

I am trying to assess this in relation to the impact it will have on many of the people in my constituency who go out into our mountainous wooded hills and harvest the products of our forests, who process those products through the converting plants into lumber, plywood, shingles, or pulp and paper. These people work hard and, it

might be suggested, earn good money, at least by the yardstick that is set as the income level at which it is appropriate that family allowances should be paid under this bill. Those are the people who are going to realize suddenly, when this bill becomes law, if it does, the real difference between those of us who believe in a state that is a place where people have an opportunity to make a full contribution toward increasing the wealth under arrangements which will equitably distribute that wealth and the members of this government who offer no leadership in ensuring that all people have opportunities for employment at decent levels of income. This government is content simply to take away benefits from the children of those people in order to pass them on to others who are either unemployed, under-employed or employed at low levels of wage in other parts of the country.

I believe you are indicating that it is six o'clock, Mr. Speaker.

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

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order, please. It being six o'clock, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at two o'clock.

At six o'clock the House adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.

Thursday, April 20, 1972

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

April 19, 1972