February 15, 1979

LIB

Peter A. Stollery

Liberal

Mr. Stollery:

A depression is not happening right now. A depression means that there is declining growth, which is not happening at the present time. As was indicated earlier, we are experiencing the most difficult decade since the 1930s, for a variety of reasons with which we, as members of parliament, are familiar.

In this type of ongoing discussion, which has taken place for years in the House of Commons, one can follow one of two routes; one can indulge in the hyperbole concerning government spending, or one can take the economic route. I repeat that the percentage of the gross national product which is debt is not as high as it was in 1962. One can indulge in hyperbole and frighten people half to death, or one can gather many books written by economists. Today I went to the library and ordered a copy of the book entitled "General Theory of Employment Interest in Money" which was written by Keynes.

Income Tax

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

David Orlikow

New Democratic Party

Mr. Orlikow:

The Minister of Finance (Mr. Chretien) can read it as well.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter A. Stollery

Liberal

Mr. Stollery:

One can read Galbraith or any number of books dealing with economics. I suspect most hon. members have read many of these books. When one reads the various books, one comes to the conclusion that one is not very much the wiser. If one has read 20 books written by 20 different economists, one will discover that they have 20 different approaches. After reading those books, perhaps one is somewhat more informed, but also more confused than before. The important thing is that the government must provide as much as possible for its citizens. If there is a declining growth rate, it should be absorbed as fairly and justly as possible by the citizens, particulary those who cannot protect themselves.

The Conservative party has said clearly through its mortgage tax credit proposal that instead of providing for the poor people, instead of making life easier for those people who are experiencing more difficult times because of the declining growth rate, it is going to make life easier for the rich. That is what the mortgage tax credit proposal means. That party is going to make life easier for the rich. It is going to give them $5 billion. We did not hear tonight about the famous stimulative deficit, but that was to be an $18 billion operation. There was to be $5 billion for the rich. I think it is important that people in Canada understand that different approach, and particularly the Conservative approach which was clearly enunciated during the byelection build-up. It was indicated there was to be an extra $5 billion for the rich. I think that is sinking in now.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

An hon. Member:

It sunk in during the byelections.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter A. Stollery

Liberal

Mr. Stollery:

I do not think the people in my constituency, with an average annual income of less than $12,000 and no possibility of getting any of that rich man's $5 billion, will take too kindly to that approach. The hon. member for Don Valley (Mr. Gillies) says one should not compare one's self with people in other parts of the country. We should not use any kind of measuring stick, but just sort of wander around and pluck things out of the air. Everybody knows that things are more difficult now than they were ten years ago. The Conservative party's answer to that is exactly the same as it was in 1930: protect the rich and make sure the poor people suffer. That is the record. There is to be $5 billion in mortgage tax credits for those people with expensive mortgages, but nothing for the people with small mortgages or for those who rent.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

An hon. Member:

It's too bad you weren't running in the last byelection.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter A. Stollery

Liberal

Mr. Stollery:

I do not know if the people of Canada have quite cottoned on to that, but they will, particularly when we go through some of the announcements apparently being made today to reinforce this Conservative position of favouring the rich and the well-to-do, favouring those who have and against

February 15, 1979

Income Tax

those who have not. I think the people of Canada will see through that. The next election may be very interesting.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

An hon. Member:

It sure will be.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter A. Stollery

Liberal

Mr. Stollery:

But not in the way hon. members opposite think.

Let me bring one more point to the attention of the House before ten o'clock. I should like to relate what has happened to the value of the dollar, and suggest why it has happened. This is another chestnut being dragged out by the Conservative party. I have looked at the statistics regarding the value of the dollar over the last two and a half years. I got all the statistics for each month, and I did so because of some of the wild things we heard yesterday. No one over there wants to talk about the Parti Quebecois, the separatists, or what effect the election of that party has had on the value of our dollar. If you mention the problem we have in this country as a result of one of the provinces with a government that wants to separate, you are practically shouted down for being cynical. We are not supposed to talk about this. My goodness, are we not supposed to realize what happened to the value of the Canadian dollar following the election of that party in Quebec in 1976?

Let me give the House some statistics in relation to the value of the dollar in the past couple of years. In September, October and November of 1976 the value of the Canadian dollar in relation to the U.S. dollar was par or $1.01. No one wants to talk about that fact. Following the Quebec election, the value of our dollar in relation to the U.S. dollar in December, January and February was 98 cents, 98 cents, and 97 cents. In March it dropped to 95 cents. In April, May, and June it was 95 cents, 95 cents, and 94 cents. Nobody wants to talk about that, and nobody wants to admit that perhaps there was a relationship between what happened in November, 1976, and the drop in the value of the Canadian dollar. I suggest that nobody but a fool could fail to understand that relationship.

I do not know anyone in the currency business, but I suppose currency is similar to cheese in that you are not going to keep cheese that has gone bad. Surely you are not going to keep milk that has gone sour. I suggest these people are not going to hold on to Canadian dollars when it looks as though the country is not going to be around much longer. People are not going to do that unless they are crazy. I cannot imagine the gnomes of Zurich and New York, whoever they are, if they really exist, holding on to Canadian money in a crisis situation such as this. I cannot imagine people like that being so stupid.

This opposition has no position in this regard. It is an opposition without position. It has lost its credibility, and that is the reason hon. members do not want to talk about this relationship. They suggest that what happened in November, 1976, had nothing to do with the drop in the value of our dollar. Are they really suggesting that the gnomes of Zurich and New York are going to hold on to hundreds of millions of Canadian dollars knowing there is a possibility that the country may not exist as it is now for much longer? That is just too stupid for imagination, and it is beyond imagination that such a group of individuals could seriously think they could form

the government of this country. That is the approach they have taken. They do not want to talk about it. In June, 1977, the value of the dollar dropped to 94 cents.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

An hon. Member:

Please call it ten o'clock.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Peter A. Stollery

Liberal

Mr. Stollery:

In July the value dropped to 94 cents, and in August it dropped to 93 cents. In September it was 93 cents, and in October it dropped to 90 cents. I do not think anyone could take very seriously a group that does not want to talk about this. Let me call it ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker, and continue on Monday.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 40 deemed to have been moved.


VETERANS AFFAIRS-INTRODUCTION OF MEASURES TO IMPROVE PENSIONS

NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, February 12, as reported at page 3109 of Hansard, I put a question to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. MacDonald) in these words:

In view of the fact that there are three or four outstanding items, such as the 48 per cent rule as it affects widows, revising the War Veterans Allowance Act, keeping the disability pension rate in line with the composite wage in the public service and so on, with which it would be desirable to deal before this parliament ends, would the minister do his best to bring before cabinet one or more of these issues so that parliament can deal with them in the name of our veterans before this session ends?

In the few minutes one has in the late show, I can expand only briefly on those four or five items, but I would like to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Parent), who is here tonight to respond on behalf of his minister, that the heart of this question is simply this: are we going to get some veterans legislation before this session ends?

Over the last few days I have been pushed from one minister to another. When I asked the Minister of Veterans Affairs if he would be bringing forth any legislation, his reply was that it depends upon whether there is time. When I asked the government House leader or his deputy to make time for some legislation in the field of veterans affairs, I was told that it is up to the Minister of Veterans Affairs to submit the legislation. Today when I renewed my endeavours with a question to the government House leader, he said that he would be happy to prolong the session to get some of these things done, but since one does not know when the session will end, one does not know what "prolong" means. However, if by that he meant

February 15, 1979

that there is hope that we will get some legislation respecting veterans affairs in this session, I am very grateful.

I said that I would take a moment or two to expand upon these four or five topics. I need not take the time to develop them fully because my friend and I know the case from A to Z. First, there is the 48 per cent rule. This is becoming of concern to more and more veterans, especially as they get older. It bothers them to realize that in many cases if they die first their widows will not get a pension because their disability pensions are below 48 per cent. That rule simply must be changed.

Then there is the question of an over-all review of the War Veterans Allowance Act. This review has been promised to us repeatedly for the best part of a year. In fact on December 22, 1978, just before Christmas, the minister said in regard to that matter that "it is coming along quite well, and I hope to have something to present sometime in February." We are already in the middle of February, and I hope that that commitment will be carried out.

I also mentioned on Monday the desirability of keeping the 100 per cent disability pension rate in line with the composite salary index in the public service. It was adjusted last year to bring it in line because it had fallen behind, and it is slipping again. It seems to me that we ought to put this on a legislative basis so that we are not required to bring it up to date every three or four years.

A minor item which I had in mind when I asked my question the other day, and which is causing some irritation, is the fact that when the mail is disturbed or delayed at the end of the month certain pension cheques do not arrive on time. This is particularly annoying to veterans because their disability cheques are dated at the end of the month and, therefore, they do not receive them until the end of the month. Certain other cheques, such as old age security cheques, are sent out two or three days ahead of time, but disability cheques are not sent out in advance. I am told that the reason is because disability benefits stop the day a veteran dies. When an old age pensioner dies in the middle of the month the pensions lasts for the rest of the month. If that simple change could be made it would not cost very much and then these cheques could be sent out a little early.

Another main issue of concern to veterans these days, and to the organizations that represent them, is that of domiciliary care which is something that needs to be improved because our veterans are aging.

I have listed five subjects, and the parliamentary secretary cannot deal with them all in three minutes. He does not need to because I have set out the items. What he ought to be able to do, and what will boost his stock tremendously if he will do it tonight, is to assure us that before this session ends, before this parliament is dissolved and before an election is called, there will be legislation introduced on one or more of these items. I say to him that if it is, members of all parties in this

Adjournment Debate

House will co-operate and get that legislation through in no time at all.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS-INTRODUCTION OF MEASURES TO IMPROVE PENSIONS
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LIB

Gilbert Parent (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gilbert Parent (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, I do thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) again for bringing the problems to the fore with regard to the veterans and the pensions. I am sure the hon. member is well aware that the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. MacDonald) is acutely aware of the problems as they exist now. I am sure the hon. member realizes the minister has tried over the years, and has been very successful in making the lot of veterans through their pensions, and through the pensions of their widows, much better than it was at any time before.

As the minister said to the hon. member in his reply on Monday, the items are under consideration. The review of the War Veterans Allowance Act is nearing completion. The minister expects to receive a report on the outcome of that study shortly. As to whether the legislation will be brought forward depends again, as the hon. member was told today, on the amount of time that we have before the end of the session. There are some other variables.

The team designed to study the legislation has confirmed that the legislation, in parts, and the administration it requires, do not fully provide for the needs of those it seeks to serve. It has been outdated by contemporary social policy. Detailed proposals are currently being developed which will meet the present and future needs of war veterans allowance recipients and their dependants.

1 need not remind the hon. member that the subject of providing pro rata pensions for widows whose husbands were in receipt of disability pensions of 47 per cent or less has been discussed very often in this House over the years. Indeed this has been brought up by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre in the committees that we have sat on together over the last four years. It should be remembered, and I point this out only for the record, that the widow was pensioned whose husband's death occurred during war time or whose death was attributable to his service, and regardless of the degree of disability assessment. The question arises is whether, if death was not in any way attributable to military service, a widow's pension should be paid because of the service connection.

With respect to disability pensions, they were indexed, as the member fairly brought out earlier, on January 1 to reflect changes in the consumer price index. The basic rate for an unmarried 100 per cent pensioner is now $679 a month. In the case of a married 100 per cent pensioner the figure is $849 a month. If he and his wife have two dependent children his pension is increased to over $1,000 a month.

I wish an answer could be given specifically to the question which the hon. member brings up. I can tell him that this whole subject is under review and there is great sympathy on this side of the House with the over-all concept of what we are trying to do with the widows' pensions.

February 1 5, 1979

Adjournment Debate

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS-INTRODUCTION OF MEASURES TO IMPROVE PENSIONS
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

We are ready to agree.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS-INTRODUCTION OF MEASURES TO IMPROVE PENSIONS
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OFFICIAL LANGUAGES-INQUIRY WHETHER BUDGETARY CUTS WILL AFFECT FUNDS FOR TEACHING OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier):

Mr. Speaker, this brief intervention relates to the federal-provincial agreements providing for the teaching of the official languages in our Canadian educational system. I raised this question in the House on the 25th of October last because I wanted to know the possible impact of the government's budgetary cuts and especially the impact of these cuts on federal-provincial programs on bilingualism in the educational system.

In answer to my question, the minister confirmed that the government had decided upon freezing these payments amounting to $140 million and he promised that he would try convincing the provinces to establish an accountability procedure whereby the public would be made aware of the breakdown of the federal funds provided to the provinces to help them incur the extra expenses required for the teaching of the second language and the teaching of official languages to minority groups.

Incidentally, that was proposed by the B and B commission in 1969 and the Liberal government of the day had been willing to sign agreements with the provinces in order to help them take up that national challenge, namely to allow linguistic minorities whose mother tongue was one of the official languages access to education in their own mother tongue and to allow Canadians of the linguistic majority to learn the second official language in all parts of the country if they so desired.

Mr. Speaker, as present agreements end before March 31, 1979 and as it is urgent that those agreements be signed in order for us to have the assurance that the provinces will continue to ensure the education of the minority groups and the teaching of the second language to those who so wish, I feel it is timely tonight to bring up one of the problems that seem to be of concern not only to the federal government but also the provinces.

I am thinking here of the question of the accounting, the matter of giving publicly a breakdown of expenditures made by the provinces, so that not only the people of the provinces concerned might know what is going on in their own province, but also all Canadians might be fully aware of the amounts spent on those objectives, namely encouraging and compensating the provinces for the additional expenditures incurred for the teaching of the second language and the education of the minorities. As we know, schooling in Canada is compulsory for all children. So, when talking about schooling expenditures it must be understood that there is no question of the federal government interfering in a provincial jurisdiction; instead, it

is a matter for it to try to make up for whatever the provinces may not be expanding with regard to that additional burden. Schools, desks, school buses, teachers, books, those exist for all students in all provinces, and I do not feel that, because I speak French in Ontario, 1 am a greater burden to the province than is the other guy who speaks English. So, in all fairness, both would be entitled to the same education, and that is what we are striving for. The agreements seem to be bogged down, Mr. Speaker, on the question of giving a public breakdown of the accounting. The provinces say: It is our jurisdiction, education is our responsibility, therefore the federal government has no right to interfere. We in the federal government do not want to interfere in education which is so essential, so well known in the Canadian context and where the provinces have full authority.

Some provinces or perhaps all of them refuse however to account for those expenditures. The problem is as follows: we, who live in a minority situation, do not have the assurance that those provinces spend the federal funds for the objectives which we think are pursued by the federal government. I think hon. members are aware that for several years we have been asking for access to the books, for public accountability. They refuse saying it is a provincial area of jurisdiction, and we just have to foot the bill, and then they will see how to spend the money.

The problem is that federal funds are transferred to an account called the general accounts of the province, then they are redistributed according to a formula which does not take the federal formula into account because payments are made according to a well established formula, while they are redistributed according to another formula which is sometimes not so well known.

Therefore I consider them as essential because we are just coming out of a period where we received the Pepin-Robarts report, which recommends that Canadians leave to the provinces the obligation to educate minorities in their own area of jurisdiction. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not one of those who can make an act of faith in that philosophy or that proposal which would give the provinces complete freedom to act without having well established standards or criteria from the federal government to ensure something which, I think, is essential to the life of my country. In other words, wherever one lives in Canada, one would have access to education in his or her own mother tongue. You really treat minorities like simpletons when you try to make them believe everything has now change and that in less than ten years the provinces have earned the right to be trusted after ignoring the problem for years and years.

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to conclude by saying that these agreements could be multilateral, or national with national criteria, or maybe we should consider bilateral agree-

February 15, 1979

ments if, as press reports and the minister of education claim, they do not trust the current formulas, let us find new ones, and if we cannot do it generally for all provinces, maybe we should consider entering into bilateral agreements with the provinces that are willing to do so.

Mr. Speaker, this is an urgent matter and we must have the assurance tonight that these programs will continue to be implemented and that the breakdown of accounts will be done openly and publicly so all Canadians can see for themselves and be assured that funds are well spent.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   OFFICIAL LANGUAGES-INQUIRY WHETHER BUDGETARY CUTS WILL AFFECT FUNDS FOR TEACHING OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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LIB

Gilbert Parent (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gilbert Parent (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, I thank you, and I thank my colleague from Ottawa-Vanier for his question. I want to assure him sincerely and immediately that we will continue this second language education program in this province. It is not only a question of continuing, Mr. Speaker, but far from rocking the boat with this program, the federal government believes that bilingualism in education in Canada is a matter of great importance.

Even in the next five years, Mr. Speaker, the federal government will spend a minimum of $852 million to teach the second minority language in Canadian schools. And the federal government has already devoted more than $1 billion to provide second language courses in the provinces since we first negotiated and accepted in 1970 to do so in every province. [English]

The present agreement signed with the provinces in March, 1974, made general reference to the importance of full accounting-

-as my colleague mentioned, the accounting-

-by provincial governments for the federal funds received. Progress in this regard has varied from province to province. It has been different throughout Canada, but a very considerable amount of information on provincial utilization of these funds has been made available by some provinces. In others progress has been less satisfactory from the federal point of view. Most notably, the province of Quebec has not accounted for the federal formula payment beyond providing information on the numbers of students and the provincial costs of education per pupil, the variables which are utilized in the calculation of the federal payments.

The federal government, therefore, is seeking to obtain a more specific "accounting" under future agreements through new arrangements which will ensure that its funds are being effectively used to develop and implement new initiatives or to help defray the demonstrated additional maintenance costs in each province relating to the provision of education in the minority official language and second official language instruction.

Adjournment Debate

Indeed, the minister stated only yesterday in the House that the dispute or the point of contention between the provinces and the federal government is not basically over amounts of money. The real question will be whether there will be true accountability, not to the federal government-

-not to the federal government but to Canadians to make sure that funds granted to the provinces will be used to teach the second language or the minority language in this country.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   OFFICIAL LANGUAGES-INQUIRY WHETHER BUDGETARY CUTS WILL AFFECT FUNDS FOR TEACHING OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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February 15, 1979