May 17, 1972

IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT. 1972 AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINAL CODE, CRIMINAL RECORDS ACT, NATIONAL DEFENCE ACT, PAROLE ACT AND VISITING FORCES ACT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Call in the members.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT. 1972 AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINAL CODE, CRIMINAL RECORDS ACT, NATIONAL DEFENCE ACT, PAROLE ACT AND VISITING FORCES ACT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

I declare the amendment lost. The question is now on the main motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT. 1972 AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINAL CODE, CRIMINAL RECORDS ACT, NATIONAL DEFENCE ACT, PAROLE ACT AND VISITING FORCES ACT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT. 1972 AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINAL CODE, CRIMINAL RECORDS ACT, NATIONAL DEFENCE ACT, PAROLE ACT AND VISITING FORCES ACT
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Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.


OLD AGE SECURITY ACT

AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT


The House resumed, from Tuesday, May 16, consideration of Bill C-207, to amend the Old Age Security Act, as reported (without amendment) from the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs, and motion No. 5 (Mr. Rynard).


IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. When the House adjourned last night, a point of order had been raised in relation to motion No. 5 standing in the name of the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Rynard). The suggestion had been made that this motion might be difficult to accept from a procedural standpoint. I have looked at the matter and, before making a ruling, I am prepared to hear argument in relation to the point which I made last night.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. W. Baldwin (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I have read with interest your remarks. I am afraid that Your Honour probably reread them, too, and they are probably so fresh in Your Honour's mind that it would be pointless for me to try to persuade you to take a contrary view. With regard to motion No. 5,1 will not attempt to persuade Your Honour to make a ruling other than the one you indicated last night you would make. I am prepared to accept Your Honour's ruling on that. When that is disposed of, I would like to speak to amendment No. 6.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

If that is the disposition of the House, a ruling will be made formally. Referring hon. members to citation 246 of Beauchesne's Fourth Edition, I have to conclude that the motion cannot be put. I might say that I see no particular difficulty in relation to motion No. 6. Unless hon. members interpret it another way, there should be no procedural difficulty in at least having the motion put at this time. If hon. members agree, it can be put at this time.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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PC

Philip Bernard Rynard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. P. B. Rynard (Simcoe North) moved:

That Bill C-207, to amend the Old Age Security Act, be amended by striking out the word "is" at lines 14 and 24, page 2 and substituting the words "shall not be less than".

He said: Mr. Speaker, in speaking to this amendment, I am firmly of the opinion that there has been an injustice done all along the line, starting in 1967 when the old age security pension was fixed at $75. At that time, we brought in the guaranteed income supplement. There was a 2 per cent escalator clause added at that time, providing the cost of living went up by 2 per cent or more. Nothing was added if it did not go by 2 per cent. In 1971, the old age security pension was frozen at $80 per month, with the addition of 42 cents to the $79.58, but without the addition of any escalator clause. As a matter of fact, the guaranteed income supplement was, and always has been, tied to an escalator clause providing the cost of living went up by 2 per cent or more.

As we review the years since 1968, we find that the cost of living has gone up by leaps and bounds. To give an example of this, in 1971 the cost of housing, which is very essential to the people we are speaking about, went up 7 per cent. The same applied to the food and the clothing they required. These are three specific items, the cost of which increased last year so these people were gypped to the tune of 5 per cent on those items alone.

We then go back over the years they have been getting a 2 per cent increase. It is my feeling that these people have been dealt with very unfairly because the difference between the 2 per cent and the actual rise in the cost of living still has not been added to the old age security pension or the guaranteed income supplement. These people are still behind the eight ball. This is something we have to look at. The government is holding back all these

May 17, 1972

people. The same applies to some of their bonds and other securities.

It is a fact that certain people are not treated fairly by the government. I include middle class people today in that group. There may be a man and wife who both work and earn $12,000 per year. With our present inflation, in the space of four to five years the purchasing power of their income may go down by $2,000 to $10,000. To keep up with this rising cost of living, they probably receive increases in their salary which the government, by way of income tax, magnanimously drains off. Therefore, the same thing applies, only in another way, to the middle income earner this year. He will find out that there is no reduction in taxes, but an increase of 3 per cent. I deplore the fact that people are not treated fairly by the state. I do not care whether it is a Liberal or Conservative government, let us be a little more honest about what we are doing.

Governments today seem to have a built-in interest in people getting salary increases so that they can drain off more taxes. They even seem to have a built-in interest in inflation. This again hits those people on fixed incomes, particularly the people we are speaking about today, the old age pensioners. This wrong can be corrected by an order in council without any problem. It was with this in mind that I brought this amendment before the House. I hope that justice will be done.

If we go back to the figures, we find that while the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) has said we have brought these people almost to the affluent stage, by using last year's figures we see that they are still far below the poverty line as set by the Economic Council. Let us do what is fair and square, and restore to these people their rightful pension. The present Liberal government has departed a long way from the principle established by the government in 1952 when the universal old age security pension was set at $40 a month. They not only did that, but they increased it from time to time. If memory serves me correctly, they did this when the gross national product was $21 billion. Today, our gross national product is close to $100 billion, five times as much. It was a Liberal government which brought that in; not only that, Mr. Speaker, but it was universal in its application.

I ask for the support of all my fellow members of the House of Commons in this effort to ensure that an injustice is righted and that these older citizens who have done so much to build our country are treated fairly, and that the product of this differential is restored to them as from January 1, 1967.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to say just a few words on this amendment. I agree with the proposition the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Rynard) is advancing as far as it goes, but I cannot see how his amendment will achieve the purpose he has in mind.

The amending bill, as it now reads, says the escalation is to be a certain amount. That amount, at the present time is 3.6 per cent more than it was last year. The amendment would change it to read-"the escalation shall not be less

Old Age Security Act

than that certain amount." In other words, it shall not be less than 3.6 per cent. I do not see any difference between that and just saying it is 3.6 per cent. If this is simply a pious statement expressing a hope that somehow or other the amount of the escalation might be higher-

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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PC

Philip Bernard Rynard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rynard:

It may be pious, but it is honest.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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NDP

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

I shall not go into that. If it is merely a statement expressing a hope that somehow or other the amount might be higher, then perhaps we had better vote for it. But if we do, it will be in the knowledge that it does not mean anything, since the bill has already set out what the escalation is to be.

I agree with the hon. member that the escalation now to be applied to old age pensions should be much greater than it is. The Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) asserted in committee the other day that the $82.88 pensioners will now get is 8 cents more than they would have received had the old escalation formula been continued, the one in effect until December, 1970. However, under questioning, his deputy minister admitted that if the pension had been escalated by the full amount of the cost of living increase since $75 was fixed some years ago, the amount of the pension would now be over $90. This is what we should be trying to achieve, and we will support a proposition to that effect. At the same time, I say again it is not enough simply to fiddle around making minor adjustments in the escalation factor. What we need is a substantial increase in the basic amount. The hon. member's leader has already made it clear that he does not subscribe to the proposition that the basic pension should be $150 a month. We take the position that that is what it should be. I suggest, therefore, that this proposal for a few cents or a few dollars more is really not good enough.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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PC

William Marvin Howe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. M. Howe (Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Waterloo):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on this amendment presented by the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Rynard) in connection with Bill C-207, an act to amend the Old Age Security Act. I agree with all those who have indicated that this is good legislation. It is legislation which is long overdue. The minister has admitted, through his sudden conversion to the principle of linking old age security payments to the cost of living index, and by making an increase retroactive to January 1, 1972, that the existing legislation in this area is not adequate to meet the needs of the present day. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the minister did not go all the way in terms of retroactivity to the date on which the basic pension was established at $75 coupled with a 2 per cent escalation factor.

The history of the Liberal party in connection with old age pensions has not shown that party to be too expansive or too generous. Many of us can remember the episode in 1957 when the old age pension was raised from $40 to $46. We can also remember the drastic and well deserved results of the following election when "Six-buck" Harris himself went down to defeat, together with the majority of the Liberal party of the day. We sometimes wonder whether history is repeating itself.

May 17, 1972

Old Age Security Act

The bill before us concerns Canadians, many of whom suffered the effects of two world wars and the worst depression in world history. Many of them have become self-sufficient, and have been able to acquire sufficient resources of their own to see them through the years of their retirement. However, thousands of Canadians who have retired in the last few months are finding their life savings so badly eroded by inflation that a few dollars can make the difference between comfortable retirement and a bare existence. Had the escalation clause in this legislation been linked directly to the cost of living, the basic pension would now be $90.53. In other words, recipients will still be eight dollars short of the sum they should actually be receiving each month, notwithstanding the minister's own view that in arriving at the amount of old age security payments the cost of living is a necessary criterion.

As I say, we sometimes wonder whether history is not repeating itself. In 1957, $6 was given under this legislation.. Today, it is $8. The legislation still falls short. I realize that on July 1 an old age pensioner will receive a cheque for $97.28. However, on August 1st his cheque will be reduced to $82.88. In other words, he will get a bonus for one month. I do not know how near we are to an election, but I feel recipients of old age security payments will not be led astray by this attempt to bribe them with their own money, money which was due to them many months ago. According to the minister, this concession will cost an additional $166 million. Looked at within the whole spectrum of social security spending, which is within the neighborhood of $5 billion, this is not such a large sum. I say to the minister: Think again, and amend the legislation further, even at this late stage in such a way as to bring the basic old age security pension up to at least $90.53, the amount pensioners should be receiving had the escalation clause been instituted in 1967 when the pension was set at $75.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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SC

André-Gilles Fortin

Social Credit

Mr. Andre Fortin (Lotbiniere):

Mr. Speaker, I was anxious to comment briefly on the amendments moved by our colleague the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Rynard) to the effect that old age security pensions provided by Bill C-207 be increased.

Mr. Speaker, we attempted, yesterday, through an amendment, to express a different way of looking at old age security pensions. One of these motions provided for the payment of these pensions at age 60, rather than 65. The second aimed at extending the old age income security provision to persons less than 60 years, of age provided the spouse has reached the prescribed statutory age of 60.

It is known that the bill introduced by the minister provides for old age security pensions to be paid at 65, while we would like them to be payable at 60.

A third motion followed and aimed at the total cancellation of the guaranteed income supplement which is nothing but administrative "tampering" that is extremely costly and gives practically nothing more to senior citizens. Later I shall quote figures to clarify this point.

We ask that the guaranteed income supplement be cancelled, and that $200 a month be paid all senior citizens, and this without inquiries, administrative manipulations,

forms or complex calculations, such as Bill C-207 proposes.

It has been said that those motions entailed expenditures of public money-

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Munro:

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I do not wish to offend the hon. member and I would be interested to hear his remarks, which seem to be about his party's policy with respect to this legislation, more appropriately on third reading if the hon. member wishes to expound his philosophy again. However, in respect of this amendment I understand that the rules of relevancy apply, and I fail to see how his remarks relate to the amendment.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order, please. The point raised by the minister is well taken. At the time the minister rose the Chair was examining the bill and amendment, while hoping that the hon. member would bring his remarks to bear on the amendment itself, which did not seem to be the case.

When the minister rose on a point of order, the Chair was in the process of studying the clause of the bill and the amendment, and felt that the hon. member was digressing from the subject before the House, namely the amendment at the report stage, to which the rule of relevancy applies specifically and stipulates that the debate must bear formally on the amendment and the clause before the House.

Obviously, the Chair cannot, under the circumstances, prevent the hon. member for Lotbiniere from rising and making opening remarks but, I wonder, whether in so doing he did not digress, and whether he should not keep his remarks for the debate on third reading; I would invite him, for the time being and if at all possible, to stick to the amendment and the clause before the House.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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SC

André-Gilles Fortin

Social Credit

Mr. Fortin:

Mr. Speaker, I would not want to offend you or the Minister of National Health and Welfare (M. Munro) but as I maintain that my remarks pertain to the amendments moved by the hon. member for Simcoe North which provide for an increase in certains amounts provided for in the act; my opinions refer to them. That is why-

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ESCALATION OF PENSIONS, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCREASE IN GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT
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May 17, 1972