April 18, 1973

THE ROYAL ASSENT

NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received which is as follows:

Government House,

18 April, 1973

I have the honour to inform you that His Excellency the Governor General will proceed to the Senate chamber today, the 18th day of April, at 5.45 p.m. for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills.

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Andre Garneau Brigadier General

Administrative Secretary to the Governor General

Topic:   THE ROYAL ASSENT
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TABLING OF EXTRACT FROM MINUTES OF MEETING OF COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL ECONOMY CONCERNING MEMBERS' TELEPHONE EXPENSES

NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to lay upon the table an extract from the minutes of a meeting of the Commissioners of Internal Economy, held on Tuesday, April 17, 1973, concerning telephone expenses of members of the House.

Topic:   THE ROYAL ASSENT
Subtopic:   TABLING OF EXTRACT FROM MINUTES OF MEETING OF COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL ECONOMY CONCERNING MEMBERS' TELEPHONE EXPENSES
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TABLING OF EXTRACT FROM MINUTES OF MEETING OF COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL ECONOMY CONCERNING EMPLOYEES' SALARIES

NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I also have the honour to lay upon the table an extract from the minutes of a meeting of the Commissioners of Internal Economy concerning revisions of the salaries of employees of the House of Commons.

Topic:   THE ROYAL ASSENT
Subtopic:   TABLING OF EXTRACT FROM MINUTES OF MEETING OF COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL ECONOMY CONCERNING EMPLOYEES' SALARIES
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Mr. Speaker, if I may rise on a point of order, I should like to advise the House that I will be seeking consent later this day to move concurrence in the report of the commissioners.

Topic:   THE ROYAL ASSENT
Subtopic:   TABLING OF EXTRACT FROM MINUTES OF MEETING OF COMMISSIONERS OF INTERNAL ECONOMY CONCERNING EMPLOYEES' SALARIES
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT


First Report of Standing Committee on Regional Development-Mr. Penner. [Editor's note: For text of above report, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


SOCIAL SECURITY

LIB

Marc Lalonde (Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Hon. Marc Lalonde (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, it has become increasingly apparent that the Canadian people are questioning the effectiveness of the nation's social security programs. It was this same concern that brought the government of Canada and the governments of the provinces independently to the same conclusion that a joint federal-provincial review was called for-a review which would embrace not only what each individual government is doing in the field of social security but also what the governments together are doing.

In November 1972, the provincial ministers of welfare called for a federal-provincial conference before the spring of 1973 to establish better mechanisms for consultation on social security programs. And in January 1973, in the Speech from the Throne, the government of Canada called for a joint federal-provincial review of "Canada's total social security system", beginning in April 1973.

The government of Canada has prepared a working paper as its contribution to the launching of such a review. It is not designed to present a panacea for every weakness in Canada's welfare system. Nor is it meant as a set of fixed proposals put forward by the government of Canada to parliament and the provinces, for early legislative implementation. Rather it is designed to outline the broad directions of policy which would, in the view of the government, lead to a more effective and better co-ordinated system of social security for Canadians.

We have sought, in developing our proposals, to comprehend the whole sweep of social security policy and to develop a comprehensive, logical, and hopefully imaginative approach to this field. We have sought, too, to exercise our ingenuity in finding new, and if necessary radical, federal-provincial or constitutional arrangements, in order

April 18, 1973

Social Security

to achieve the kind of integrated social security system which will best serve the needs of the Canadian people.

The framework for our thinking was set out in the five principles enunciated in the Speech from the Throne of January 4 and elaborated upon in my first speech to this House on January 11; they are here embodied in a number of propositions, in five critical strategy areas.

First of all, we are proposing an employment strategy. By removing from existing programs disincentives to seek training and employment, by improving government-provided counselling, training and placement services, and by establishing an on-going program of community employment in socially useful activities, we hope to improve the potential of Canadians who have been unemployed for an extended period of time to obtain an employment income.

Next we are proposing a social insurance strategy. To meet the contingencies of short-term unemployment and to provide for retirement, disability, and the support of survivors, we recommend the maintenance and strengthening of social insurance programs. In this regard, we advance two specific proposals in relation to the Canada Pension Plan which we would like to embody in legislation this year-subject to a provincial consensus. This involves an increase in the level of yearly maximum pensionable earning to $7,800 by 1975, and the removal of the ceiling on cost-of-living escalations of Canada Pension Plan benefits.

Thirdly, we are advancing an income supplementation strategy. We recognize that the earnings of people who are working may not always be sufficient to meet family income needs. This may be because of the size of the family-wage levels not being related to the numbers of children-or it may be because of the nature of the breadwinner's employment-it may be low paying self employment or intermittent work. To meet these problems of the "working poor", as they are often called, we are advancing two propositions.

First we are proposing a significant increase in the universal family and youth allowance benefit, from an average of $7.21 per child per month to an average of $20 per child per month. To effect a significant measure of income redistribution, we propose to make the new family allowance taxable-although I should point out that practically all Canadian families should realize a net increase over their present levels.

In the budget of February 19 we provided for an appreciable reduction of income and other taxes in order to increase the net disposable incomes of Canadian taxpayers. By this additional measure we are effecting a substantial transfer of funds to Canadian families. Such a measure will be of great benefit to people with low and middle incomes, but the greatest benefit will accrue to the working poor. This change will result in a net increase in payments to Canadian families of over $800 million in a full year.

Second, we are suggesting that where income from employment plus the higher family allowances still does not provide the family with an acceptable minimum

income, consideration should be given to a single general income supplementation program. Such a program would have the advantage not only of providing more acceptable incomes to the working poor, but also of providing them with an incentive to continue to work rather than to go on social aid.

The largest groups of people, however, who do not receive an acceptable minimum income-whether from employment or social insurance-are those who are old or disabled or otherwise not employable. And there are the large numbers of single parent families-largely widowed or separated mothers with dependent children-who choose not to seek or who are unable to find employment outside the home. We suggest that additional income supplementation should be provided to these people, thus assuring them a guaranteed income.

In the case of the aged, we propose that they enjoy an option to choose between this guaranteed income and the existing OAS/GIS system. Finally, to accommodate cases of special and emergency need, we suggest a "back-stop" program of supplementary social assistance.

To make the employment and income supplementation strategies fully effective, we advance a social and employment services strategy, based on two propositions. The first is that necessary training, counselling, placement, rehabilitation, and child care services should be extended and improved. The second is that the costs of special services in areas such as nursing home and child care should be covered under the plan for those in need of them but who are unable to meet these costs themselves.

The review of the social security system upon which we are embarking is, as I have consistently stated, a joint federal-provincial venture-both the review and ultimate implementation. It is for this reason that we are setting out propositions rather than fixed proposals, and why we have not sought to make proposals concerning jurisdictional and financial divisions of responsibility.

We have, however, a general format to suggest-a flexible and creative approach to the federal-provincial dimension. This proposed format includes major innovations in the field of federal-provincial or constitutional arrangements.

First, subject to certain national minimums, we suggest that provinces should have the power to vary the levels of allowances and income supplements paid under federal programs. Within prescribed limits, the provinces would be able to reduce the allowances paid under one federal program and transfer the savings to increase the allowances paid under another program.

Second, we suggest that, as a condition of this flexibility, there should be a framework of national norms and national minimum standards to ensure a basic equity to all Canadians affected.

Finally, we propose that the entire review be completed within two years, and that the implementation of such an approach should be regarded as a three to five-year process starting from the April conference of ministers of welfare and calling for the gradual implementation over time, within existing levels of taxation, of the approach which is agreed upon. However, early priority should be given to the adoption of legislation this year for increasing

April 18, 1973

family allowances and for those changes in the Canada Pension Plan which the provinces can agree upon. It would be our hope that the increased family allowances would come into effect in January, 1974.

It must not be thought, I should like to conclude, that the launching of a critical review such as this is a sure sign that Canada's present social security system is fundamentally unsound and in need of a total transformation, for this simply is not the case. The truth is that Canada's system is one of the most advanced in the western world and that it provides a solid foundation upon which to build in the context of today's needs. For this the present ministers of welfare are indebted to their predecessors.

It is our hope that what the government of Canada has presented in this working paper for purposes of discussion will contribute to a reasoned and sympathetic debate as to how best to provide for the security of income for all Canadians.

I need not remind hon. members that I have undertaken to have the working paper referred to the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs where I welcome the fullest possible discussion.

We hope that this debate will not be limited to members of parliament and governments only but that voluntary organizations and the public at large will take an active part in the discussion of our proposals, as well as of any other proposals that my provincial colleagues may want to put forward.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 41(2), I would like to table the Working Paper on Social Security in Canada, in both official languages.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Hillsborough):

Mr. Speaker, I want to say-

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the courtesy of members on the government backbenches as I begin my remarks. I want to say that I have had a very busy hour. I have never had so much paper thrust upon me at any time since Mr. Benson launched his white paper a good many months ago. We all know what happened to that white paper and what happened to Mr. Benson.

I am glad to have had a copy of the minister's statement and of the papers, but I must say it is difficult to deal with such a vast assemblage of words in 45 minutes. I might also say that my representative was excluded from the locked-up press briefing the minister gave, a discourtesy which I did not particularly appreciate. I also understand that across the whole of the land today there will be press conferences given by representatives of the minister in various regional offices.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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PC

Thomas Miller Bell (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell:

They are really milking it.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

I hope there is no lack of consideration here on two grounds, namely, that those of us who speak for the opposition do in fact speak for the majority of the

Social Security

people of Canada, and also that there is no loss of the balance between those who are government officials and those who are partisan people. This is a very serious matter and I will leave it there.

Needless to say, Mr. Speaker, I welcome any move which will benefit the people of Canada, far too many of whom are living on or near the jagged edge of poverty.

In separating the concrete from the vaguely projected, I salute the substantial increase in family allowances. An improvement in this area is long overdue. As a measure of income redistribution the pressing need for revision is shown by comparison with the situation in 1945 when the allowance was established. At that time payments represented 1.45 per cent of the gross national product. In 1973 the allowance represents .5 per cent, or roughly a third of what it was in the good old days of Mackenzie King, God rest his soul. Had we just kept abreast of that amount we would have had $17.40 instead of $8 and $13 instead of $6. So the figure of $20 is not overly generous. Indeed I would repudiate anyone who would suggest that it is too much. Far from it.

I trust that the minister, although he does not quite say so, has put away that administrative monstrosity introduced in the last parliament as the FISP bill. How awkward that would have been had it come into law. We would not have had this new dawn that has been visited upon us today.

If I can speak over the chortling of the Liberal backbenchers, may I say that I think this is an important matter and not one for merriment at all. It is a matter of great concern. I said to the minister on March 1 that if he would bring in a more generous bill, one which would be less an administrative jungle than FISP, we would support it wholeheartedly and expedite its passage as much as we could, and I say so again today. We will do our best to facilitate such a measure.

In so far as I detect a genuine and general thrust toward an incentive society in the minister's statement, I cannot but agree. Indeed, if I disagreed I would be disagreeing with what my party said last October. The minister states that he has an employment strategy, and then talks of government-provided counselling and an ongoing program of community employment and socially useful activities. I read that with great care. This is an area I want to hear more about. What is this new talisman for finding work? Certainly the government has not distinguished itself up to now in the fight against unemployment. I trust that we are not at this stage dreaming up some temporary make-work programs which will give the illusion of destroying the devil of unemployment that has shadowed this country for a decade. The people of Canada deserve the opportunity to have meaningful work.

By its mishandling of the economy the government has laid far too heavy a burden on the whole welfare structure in our society, to say nothing of the terrible social costs resultant from the non-utilization of the creative capacity and ability of the Canadian people.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

I for one want no part of any phony make-work projects which fail to challenge the Canadian

3406

April 18, 1973

Social Security

people or which will degrade them into mechanistic nonutilitarian routines described as welfare employment.

It is the right of every Canadian to have meaningful employment and it is the responsibility of government to ensure that all Canadians have permanent jobs-jobs which hold something for their future and for the future of the country. This is the kind of new deal we want; this will bring greater prosperity and opportunity than any tinkering with the welfare programs.

I agree with the proposals in reference to the Canada Pension Plan. We do need higher ceilings. I am sure that, like me, every member of this House is receiving letters from people whose payments are being diminished because of income from some other area or some other pension. That was not the intention of the Canada Pension Plan.

On an occasion like this it is always difficult to avoid that rather crude expression, "I told you so". I do not want to do that, but I am delighted that we now find enshrined in these proposals something we have always believed in, that the actual and real cost of living should be built into all these pension plans. It was a disgrace, before the shock of last October, that we had, in the face of inflation, an artificially lower increase built into our pension plans so that we were really taking it out of the old people.

For far too long in this country welfare has been a political football. I think this is one area that should transcend politics. I have no intention of seeking to win office by bribes, promises or threats to the old people of this land. I will not enter the auction room. I will not knock legislation for the sake of knocking, nor will I hesitate to commend any good move made by this minister or anyone else.

It is extremely difficult in such an expanded statement as the minister's to find precise commitments. I would have liked to know more clearly what the minister is going to do for the blind and the handicapped. I would have liked the minister to indicate that he intends to follow the example of the British parliament which has produced some splendid legislation for people who are permanently handicapped and have difficulty coping with life's basic needs.

I agree with the minister's reference to flexibility. I listened to him very carefully when he said:

We suggest that provinces should have the power to vary the levels of allowances and income supplements paid under federal programs. Within prescribed limits, the provinces would be able to reduce the allowances paid under one federal program and transfer the savings to increase the allowances paid under another program.

Oh, flexibility! Oh, conversion! I am all for it. Had this attitude prevailed months ago we would have had a more harmonious dominion-provincial relationship in this country. I commend the minister for the following paragraph in which he says that there should be a framework of national norms and national minimum standards to ensure a basic equity to all Canadians affected. We must never lose sight of the goal and aspirations so clearly set forth by the Rowell-Sirois report many years ago that Canadians in rich provinces, small provinces, Canadians in the north, in the south, all Canadians, should expect a decent standard of social services and that they need not live in a wealthy,

large province to get that basic standard. I would advise the minister not to lose sight of that paragraph. We must have national norms.

I should also like to say that we do not want the development of a welfare jungle in Canada. I should like to think that Canadians can expect a good standard, an ever-improving standard. I hope that the paper we have received today will bring forth real legislation and concrete advantages for the Canadian people, and that it will not join on the book shelves all the reports of commissions that are gathering dust in all our offices. We must wait, it seems, for further discussions, further exchanges and further points of view. I say to the minister, we cannot wait too long. Too many Canadians are having it too hard to allow for such administrative and legislative leisure. I say that in so far as these measures are helpful we will help their thrust and get them into legislation. That is a commitment from this party. But in the long run, and before too long, the country must gather together all the strands of its welfare programs. We must get something that is more unified, more efficient, more coherent and more compassionate. Even if all the aims that we can see in this paper are realized, that goal will not be achieved.

So we may have to wait for a new day, for new men with new ideas. In the meantime, however, we will make the best of what the minister has brought forward. For that I congratulate him. I want to say he almost tempted me, when he spoke about family allowances, to move away from my plan of three children and try to emulate the Minister of Justice, but I think that I will need to enter into further consultations at home before I can commit myself.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   SOCIAL SECURITY
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER RESPECTING RE-EXAMINATION OF PROGRAMS-TABLING OF WORKING PAPER
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April 18, 1973