June 27, 1972

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-170, to provide for the payment of benefits in respect of children, as reported (with an amendment) from the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs.


IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Before calling motion No. 1 as it appears on the order paper the Chair might refer to the procedural aspects of the motions. After examining the motions proposed by hon. members I would like to suggest that motions Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 appear to be acceptable on procedural grounds, unless hon. members want to suggest that for one reason or another they are not.

Motions Nos. 5 and 7 appear to present some difficulty. I think that the hon. member who has moved them might agree that they have financial implications. However, it might be said that motion No. 5 to some extent covers the same ground as motion No. 6 which is sponsored by the minister, and of course motion No. 6 is covered by a recommendation. In these circumstances it may be that the hon. member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe would feel that the purpose which he seeks to achieve through his motion No. 5 would be realized under the terms of motion No. 6. But I would suggest, subject to any arguments that might be submitted by hon. members, that motions Nos. 5 and 7, because they have financial implications, could not be moved.

Motions Nos. 8 and 9 appear to be acceptable from a procedural point of view.

I might also add that it might be difficult to have any of these motions considered together. In the circumstances, because there is no clear link between any of these motions except perhaps Nos. 5 and 6, I would think we might proceed with them one at a time, with the Chair putting motion No. 1 so as to launch the debate on the motions. I would be pleased to hear the advice and obtain the guidance of hon. members on these several points.

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

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Mr. Speaker, do I understand you to say that we can reserve the right to make some comments on what Your Honour has said? It may be, now that the minister has accepted the proposal put forward by the hon. member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe (Mr. Marshall), that it would not be necessary to proceed with the hon. member's motion. Depending on the progress

that the government makes, and how it jumps around from bill to bill, we might argue the point with respect to his other motion later this week or next week.

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

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

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, we see nothing wrong with your suggestions.

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

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

In other words, my understanding is that the hon. member for Peace River has suggested that my interpretation of motions Nos. 5 and 6 is correct, that they are essentially the same motion, and that if the House debates, considers and votes on motion No. 6 this would be deemed to cover motion No. 5. The only motion which would remain to be considered from a procedural standpoint would be motion No. 7, which we might consider from that standpoint when it is reached.

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

Jack Marshall

Progressive Conservative

Mr. lack Marshall (Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe) moved:

That Bill C-170, An Act to provide for the payment of benefits in respect of children, be amended by deleting the definition of "parent" in subclause 2(1), lines 16 to 18 on page 2, and substituting the following:

""parent" in relation to a child means an individual who has, in fact, the custody and control of the child and, where a family relationship exists, means for the purpose of paragraph 5(l)(a) the female parent except in any case where the female parent may be considered disqualified by reason of infirmity, ill health, improvidence or other reasonable cause or in any case where other special circumstances or reasonable cause of any kind may so require."

He said: Mr. Speaker, as there seems to be some evidence of a willingness to co-operate I will be very brief in my explanation. The bill provides that the benefits may be paid to the father or mother in the discretion of the government. The amendment would provide for the benefit to be payable to the mother, as is now the case under the Family Allowances Act and the Youth Allowances Act, and that the government would only have discretion to pay the benefit to someone other than the mother when there were good and sufficient reasons so to do as stipulated in the amendment.

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

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

Liberal

Hon. John C. Munro (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, we are certainly not arguing about the acceptability of this motion. I do point out to the hon. member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe (Mr. Marshall), however, that I believe it presents more problems than it solves. Under the present family allowances policy we prescribe under the regulations that, where a child is in the custody of both parents in a normal setting, payment will be made to the mother. This would be continued under the present legislation and the House has the assurance that, as has been the case for years under family allowances, the regulations would continue to provide for this.

June 27, 1972

Family Income Security Plan

I take it that in putting this motion the hon. member is endeavouring to obtain some assurance that in fact the mother will receive payment. For the reasons I have stated, I do not believe this is necessary. I also think it raises some difficulty because as I understand the hon. member's motion the payment would be made to "the female parent except in any case where the female parent may be considered disqualified by reason of infirmity, ill health, improvidence or other reasonable cause or in any case where other special circumstances or reasonable cause of any kind may so require."

This is a very subjective kind of criteria. It is difficult to determine when a mother would be disqualified in such circumstances. For instance, the word "improvident" could cover a very wide area, depending on the attitude of the person who made the decision. We prefer the present wording because of the basic underlying assurance that the regulations will provide for payment to the mother. Of course, in circumstances where the child may not be with the natural parents but is with relatives, adoptive parents or somebody else who is responsible for the care and custody of the child, then the payment can be made to that particular person. The present wording permits a degree of flexibility.

I hope the hon. member will reconsider his motion in view of what I have said and in view of the high degree of flexibility required in order to permit the plan's administration to substitute for the mother, even for a temporary period, the person who has the actual care and custody of the child. For these reasons, I feel that this motion is not necessary and creates difficulty which I am sure the hon. member would not find desirable.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FAMILY INCOME SECURITY PLAN
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE BENEFITS IN RESPECT OF CHILDREN
Permalink
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, when this point was raised in the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs one of the responses that we were given was that the wording of the act was neutral. The question was put to us whether it would not be better to be neutral than to discriminate in favour of a person of either sex. To underline what I mean, the phrase in the bill before us reads as follows: "parent" in relation to a child means an individual who has, in fact, the custody and control of the child.

That, I submit, Sir, is a very plausible argument in this day of equality between the sexes. We were also assured in the committee, as we have been assured now, that the normal practice will be for the cheque to be made out to the mother. Not only were we given the assurance that this would be done but we were told that as with respect to the present Family Allowances Act it would be covered by regulation. We all know that regulations passed under statutes are just as much law as the statutes themselves. Therefore, at some point it is going to become part of the law that the normal course will be for FISP cheques to be made out to the mother. I therefore support the contention of the hon. member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe (Mr. Marshall). This same point was made in committee by my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mrs. Maclnnis), that the act itself is the place where it should be said that the cheque should normally go to the mother.

I appreciate the point that the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) made about the subjec-

tive judgments that might have to be made because of the wording of the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe. I suggest that the answer to that would be to propose an amendment to the motion and I suggest that the minister propose it. He has a staff with him this morning and they could draft it fairly quickly. All that is needed is a very simple statement that the cheque will normally go to the female parent, perhaps with a proviso that, where special circumstances or reasonable cause of any kind require another course to be taken, that other course will be followed.

There is no point in my trying to move the amendment and getting us locked into procedural difficulties. This kind of thing gets through only if the minister is prepared to accept it. I would hope he would consider it. Instead of just asking the hon. member who moved the motion to withdraw it, I would hope he would propose an alternative wording, perhaps the very wording that is already in mind for the regulations. All the hon. member is asking, and we support him, is that the provision that these cheques should normally go to the mother be in the act itself rather than just in the regulations.

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

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Is the House ready for the question? The hon. member for Simcoe North.

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

Philip Bernard Rynard

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) a question. He says that payment might go to relatives or to someone else-

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

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member will appreciate that we are not in committee. Perhaps the House might allow the hon. member to ask the question of the minister and assume that the minister still has the floor. I think all hon. members have to be reminded that we are not in committee. The minister can speak only once but we might assume that the minister still has the floor. The hon. member might ask the question and the minister might reply, but certainly there has to be order and we have to follow the rules to some extent.

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

Philip Bernard Rynard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rynard:

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about how these allowances would be paid in cases where both parents are either gone or disabled and unable to look after the child and the child is in the care of an uncle, aunt, or other relative. Why was the public trustee not specifically mentioned in this bill as one who might look after such a child?

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

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The minister will be recognized with the consent of the House. Hon. members should bear in mind that we are not in committee. Hon. members ought to ask these questions before the minister finishes, because he cannot speak a second time.

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

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

Liberal

Mr. Munro:

Mr. Speaker, I see the hon. member's point but I would wish to check into it further. I believe the situation is as I explained it. Under the present wording of the bill there is, in certain circumstances, a good deal of flexibility with respect to the care and control of the child, if that care and control is in the hands of a relative or some other person. In other words, if a relative or some

June 27, 1972

other person has the care and control of that child, we can substitute that particular person for the other and make the cheques payable to that person.

The hon. member asked about the public trustee. It may well be that if there is an order of a court placing the care and control of the child in the hands of the public trustee, which I do not think is usual, the regulations would empower us to make payments to the public trustee. This is one of the reasons why I am arguing fairly strongly for the present wording and for the power to enable us to do this by regulation. In light of all the variations in circumstances that are possible, I submit that if we were to insert such provisions in the legislation there would be an inevitable tendency for a high degree of rigidity to result which otherwise would be unnecessary and which could cause hardship in some cases.

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

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

Progressive Conservative

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

Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, in my comments I should like to return to an old argument I have raised in the House time after time. I accept the minister's view that a large degree of flexibility in the regulations is needed. However, I think the government has been lax in not taking the action it ought to have taken to establish the scrutiny committee under the Statutory Instruments Act. That committee could have dealt with this issue.

I agree that the power to act by regulation and by Order in Council is a very essential and flexible power which in most circumstances ought to be granted. However, the granting of such powers to this government ought to be approached with grave caution in view of the government's failure to do what it said it would do. The former Minister of Justice over and over again said that he would establish the committee to which I have referred and make it work. The committee is there, of course, but it is not working. It has not been called together. I do not blame the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) for this. I understand his position, but I urge him to use his influence with his colleagues to see that this committee comes to life and operates. If the minister were to do that, the argument he has presented in favour of such regulations would be far more acceptable than it is at present.

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

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. Is the House ready for the question?

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

Some hon. Members:

Question.

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

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motion?

Motion No. 1 (Mr. Marshall) negatived.

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

June 27, 1972