July 25, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)


Joseph-Adéodat Blanchette (Chief Government Whip's assistant; Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party)


Mr. J. A. BLANCHETTE (Compton):

It is with a deep sense of appreciation that I rise on this occasion to support this measure of family allowances. I alreadj" had indicated its importance to this house by having inserted on the order paper on January 27, 1942, the following resolution:
Resolved that, in the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of granting family allowances, taking into consideration the respective jurisdiction of both federal and provincial parliaments, and that the matter should be referred to the committee on industrial and international relations, with instructions to inquire and make a report.
This measure was announced in the speech from the throne in January last, and I must compliment the government upon bringing in this bill which I consider of the greatest importance for the social welfare of our people. No other single social measure could be introduced in this or any other parliament or legislative assembly which offers at one and the same time so many ramifications into and corrections of our economic ills, and establishes at the same time a beacon of light in the way of social progress to humanity.
When Sir William Beveridge honoured this august body with his conference in this very building on May 25, 1943, as will be seen in report No. 13 of the special committee on social security I asked him the following questions :
Mr. Blanchette: Would our distinguished
guest care to give any comment as to his appreciation of children's allowances in any plan of social security?
Sir William Beveridge: I am very glad you asked that question because children's allowances are the most revolutionary thing in my report, and they have been accepted in Britain. I propose children's allowances for two main reasons, i'he first is that without children's allowances you cannot abolish want. Poverty in Britain before the war was due to two causes. It was due either to the interruption of earnings or a man having too large'a family for his wages We do not believe that Britain can get on unless there are a substantial number of large families. Unless we can get an average of nearly three children born to a family the British race will diminish and finally die out. Therefore there must be large families and we want some large families. In order to abolish want you have got to have children's allowances. The secondary reason is that if you give allowances for children only when people are unemployed or sick you will sometimes have cases where people have as much money when they are sick or unemployed as they can earn or even more. That is a bad situation. There are quite a number of other reasons for children's allowances, such as its effect upon the population and the quality of the population which I will

not go into now. Until recently there was considerable opposition to children's allowances on the part of some trade unions, but at the last trade union congress in September last they accepted children's allowances. It has been accepted by the government as to its principle. I think you may take it that it will be adopted.
I should be very much interested to see whether or not you adopt it in this country. I hope you will because I believe it is a good thing.
That, Mr. Speaker, is the opinion of Sir William Beveridge on the matter after his extensive and exhaustive research and study. It is my firm opinion that Great Britain will be accepting family allowances very shortly if it has not done so already, in view of Sir William Beveridge's conviction in the matter and the progress of thought which he has brought in that direction.
Our own Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) in his book "Industry and Humanity", which he published in 1918, gave an impetus toward the betterment of mankind by his enunciation in his treatise, by his contribution of a sound and comprehensive basis for constructive and combined effort which may prove of a very special value to an understanding and effective solution of the social problems of our day. Mr. King believes, as enunciated in his book "that considerations of health, broadly interpreted as denoting physical, mental and moral well-being lie at the basis of all efficiency and at the very foundation of society. In recognition of the health of workers and their social well-being the emphasis will shift from the sacredness of possession to the sacredness of life, from the value of property and its rights to the value of personality and its rights, from material resources to human resources". The elimination of fear, social and industrial, will be found to be at the root of all regulation toward the betterment of mankind. "There is a legitimate fear", says Mr. King, whereas with respect to work done compensation is wholly inadequate and insufficient, to sustain life; there is a legitimate fear where despite willingness to work, work is not to be had; there is a legitimate fear where through sickness and invalidity the capacity to earn is gone and the savings of months and years drawn and exhausted; there is a legitimate fear where age is confronted with the alternative of poverty or dependence; there is a legitimate fear where the woman is suddenly left without support for her children. Each and everyone of these fears, Mr. Speaker, is susceptible to be the lot of many of our family heads when forty-six per cent of these received a salary under one thousand dollars in Canada in 1941, and again when in the United States forty-seven per cent of the spending units

Family Allowances
received less than one thousand dollars in 1935 and 1936. True it is that legislation has been passed to meet, in a certain measure, practically all the fears above enumerated, save the latter, the fear of the heads of large families that they may be unable to bring up their families in keeping with the value of the human personality. In my opinion this measure providing family allowances will make life much more bearable for those who have not, without in any way endangering the way of life of those who have. However, the latter will have the added satisfaction of knowing they are helping their fellow men and humanity in general, and that feeling will be with them forever. That is the only wealth we can keep. In a brief on the Marsh report the Canadian association of social workers take the following stand in regard to family allowances:
The association approves the principle of family allowances and welcomes their inclusion in the Marsh report. Such grants have been general in Europe, and an essential part of the social security scheme of Australia and New Zealand. In Canada, a considerable proportion of our population is now supported by dependents' allowances. We therefore approve the universal application of this principle by extending these allowances to the whole population. The payments made by dependents' allowance represent our most comprehensive Canadian experience to date; it has been tested and proved in practice. The Canadian association of social workers therefore suggests that a scale of grants be adopted not less adequate than that of the dependents' allowance.
Our own parliament made a study of family allowances, through the standing committee on industrial and international relations, in February, 1929, so that it will be seen that this question, which has been discussed by sociologists and economists for the past fifty or sixty years, is now being given the prominence and importance it merits. What greater merit, what greater importance could any proposed measure have than that of the welfare of mankind 7 The question of family allocations made considerable headway after the last war; in the six years from 1918 to 1924 there was definite progression of thought in regard to the principle of this legislation, which was adopted by France in 1918 and by Belgium in 1921. Definite progress was made in some fifteen other European countries, as well as in New South Wales and New Zealand. The International Labour Review for April, 1940, has this to say in regard to the scope of family allowances:'
In Belgium and France practically the whole population nowr receives family allowances. In New Zealand and New South Wales the schemes also apply to all categories of citizens and activities, with the important reservation that allowances are paid only to families with a limited income. In Italy and Spain the basic regulations
provide for the extension of the allowances to all the main branches of economic activity, but only for workers, and in Chile only for salaried employees. In Hungary the payment of allowances is restricted to workers in industry and commerce.
The principle of family allocations is not established on the basis of charity, but rather on the high plane of social justice, for upon the maintenance of the family depends the very maintenance of the state. The family allowance is based on the principle of, the natural and inalienable right of each and everyone of us not only to obtain the means of his existence but to a wage which will permit him and the members of his family to live rather than merely exist. As it has been established in the providential order that man must not live alone, that he is destined to establish and bring up a family, so, therefore, must it be admitted that a well organized economic regime must be such that all men of normal capacity may be able to supply their needs and those of their families.
I will not undertake a philosophic discussion of the right of ownership which Christian philosophers, economists and sociologists recognize as established in the very nature of man, taking precedence over the nature of the state. I wall say, however, that from this right of ownership emanate many restrictions, among them the right of a lawfully constituted authority to direct and orient the right of property toward the common good and welfare of its subjects. Upon this right is predicated the power of the state to legislate upon contracts, wills and transfers of property; to levy taxes upon property for the administration of the state, and so on. The state has a mission to look after the general welfare of its subjects, and it also has the power and right to modify its economic regime if that regime is opposed to the principles of social and distributive justice, in order that it may further, as much as possible, the general welfare of its members. I need not pursue minutely or in detail the rapid transformation of our economic system which has resulted in ever-incre'asing production, creating at times, in some parts of the world, the erroneous belief or conviction that a human person was a mere economic chattel, to be treated accordingly.
It may be well for us to stop here for a moment to consider what has been the fate of the Canadian family of ordinary means, which is by far the most numerous in our economic set-up. Upon that consideration we may predicate a conclusion as to whether this proposed measure of family allowances is a tangible expression of the Atlantic charter or of the new order, aimed at the advancement and
Family Allowances

betterment of humanity in general. Economists agree that the family of five is a normal family; that is, the father, mother and three children. This family of five is considered necessary to at least maintain the population of a country. I believe also this is the numerical basis upon which statistics in regard to family budgets are established for the various countries of the world. The Marsh report establishes that the minimum amount which this family of five must have for its budget should be not less than $1,471.60, apportioned as follows:
Food, $34.66 per month.
Lodging, $25 per month.
Recreation, periodicals, and so forth, $1.39 per month.
Life insurance, medical care and other exigencies, $3.57 per week.
Tramways, 75 cents per week.
General furniture upkeep, 50 cents per week.
A serious examination of these items will show that there is no exaggeration in the figures given, unless it be that they are not high enough. This minimum budget of $1,471 as established by Marsh is corroborated by the welfare council of Toronto as being practically the results of its investigations. In 1941, as has been stated already, forty-six per cent of the heads of families in Canada received a salary of less than $1,000 a year. There are in Canada 225,640 families of two children; 135,240 families with three children, and 223,940 families with four children or more.
May it not therefore be logically deduced from this statement that forty-six per cent of the heads of families in Canada having an annual salary of under $1,000 have to put up with unsanitary home conditions, malnutrition and are just about eking out an existence in this land of plenty and unbounded resources? May it not also be deduced that there is something wrong with an economic system that will tolerate the payment of such revenue to the heads of forty-six per cent of the families of the country? Does not this proposed measure of family allowances offer an immediate and necessary relief to those afflicted families? As I stated at the outset of my remarks, family allocations are not based upon the principle of charity as has been asserted in some quarters. They are based upon the following considerations.
First, the head of the family is rendering a service to the state by maintaining or increasing the population of the country. It is selfevident that a single person or a family without children cannot be said to be either maintaining or increasing the population of the country. Second, the population of the country is considered a great factor in the wealth of the nation. In the sixteenth century

the economist Bodin stated that there was no strength or wealth but that found in the human person. The history of modem nations to-day bears out the truth of that axiom.
In 1870 Germany was considered to be a poor nation. None the less it saw its wealth doubled with the increase of its population during the thirty years preceding the war of 1914. On the other hand, during the same period France saw its wealth and population remain practically stagnant. It is all the more important for a young country like Canada that its population should increase in view of the vast expanses of our dominion and our valuable resources. Family allocations
will surely make an increased population possible by providing better nutrition and better medical care to our children. These two factors alone will greatly increase our population.
Various insurance companies have endeavoured to place a value upon the person engaged in production. For example, the
Metropolitan Life Insurance company carried on a wide and extensive research in this connection some few years back. They came to the conclusion that a person thirty years of age earning $50 a week represented some $31,000 of the economic wealth of the country to which he belonged. At his birth this same person represented an economic value of $9,333. Who is responsible for the proper upkeep, development and orientation of this person whose value to the state is $9,333 if it is not his father and mother? Again the research of the Metropolitan Life mentions that the total cost to a family of a producer such as the one just referred to is $7,200.
The family provides the state with willing workers in agriculture, industry, education and science. The greater the family, the greater its power of consumption of goods produced by the industries of the nation. In view of all these services rendered by the family to the country it would appear that some special consideration should be given by the country to large families. In some cases just the opposite prevails in that the larger the family, the greater the indirect taxes paid, and at times there is even a greater payment of direct taxes.
The economist Fallon has well said that family allocations are not a charitable donation but rather an assistance, an indemnity, a payment for service rendered to the state. It is earned in the most respectable sense of the word. It should be considered just as honourable as payment for other services rendered to the state. For example, the judge and magistrate are not paid because they render justice on the basis of their monetary re-

Family _ Allowances
numeration. The soldier does not defend his country for the pay he gets. Both of these categories are paid because of the service they render to their country, and family allocations should be considered in like manner.
Saturday Night of July 8 last had this to say on the question of family allowances:
There are no doubt certain weaknesses about the bonus system, but it has not yet been established that they are greater than the weaknesses of having no system of dealing with the needs of the underprivileged families, or the weaknesses of any other practical method of doing so.
The proposal of Miss Charlotte Whitton for greatly extended revision of social services are admirable, but they do not and cannot guarantee that all needy families would be adequately looked after.
And again:
A united nation is one in which the more fortunate citizens of all kinds, simply because they are citizens and are more fortunate, are willing to be taxed for the benefit of the less fortunate citizens of all kinds, simply because they also are citizens, but are less fortunate, due in great part because of their greater economic responsibility due to large families.
The article ends with:
We shall have a Canadian nation only when we can feel, pretty generally, that a Canadian child is a Canadian child and entitled to certain economic advantages, whether he is French or Scottish, or Ukrainian by racial origin, whether he is in Quebec or Alberta, whether he is the son of a Roman Catholic or a Presbyterian or a Lutheran. We can hasten that time, or, we can defer it, by our attitude on this legislation.
The Labour Review of June last had this to say:
In quite a few countries, children's allowances were paid before the war. After the war, still more countries will have them. Canada has to decide whether or not to keep abreast of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand in social progress and population policy.
In this sparsely populated land, we should ask ourselves, not -whether we can afford children's allowances, but whether we can afford any longer to do without them.
To bring up a large family of children constitutes an unbearable burden to workers who live a hand-to-mouth existence. Not only does this deprive that family of many essentials of life, but frequently it means absolute poverty.
Of all the contingencies of modern life, that of the overburdened family has been the last to be recognized. It may perhaps be easy to explain the tardiness of the movement. The burden of a large family, although just as serious and lasting an even longer period, has not the striking * appeal of accidents, unemployment, illness, old age dependency, or widowhood and orphanage. Its hardships are more hidden and the social conscience has naturally been slower in awakening. Furthermore, the sufferings of the victims of economic pressure are not so dramatically displayed as are sacrifices of men in war. They are none the less real, although being silently, slowly, and obscurely borne.
The value of a system of family allowances cannot be questioned. No one can deny the injustice now imposed upon parents who have to raise a large family on wages which at times are frequently insufficient for the parents, let alone the children.
Family allowances would relieve much of the anxiety and poverty which now confronts many parents. They would bring about greater efficiency and reduced labour turnover They would supply an additional ready market for consumers goods to the extent of some one hundred million dollars a year at least; they would give an impetus to the better housing movement and greatly contribute to the gradual disappearance of slum housing. They would also be of some assistance in immigration.
From the point of view of society, the family allowance is the safest and surest way of promoting health and raising the standards of the race both physically and morally. It is the easiest way of preventing the stunted growth of children, and is the least expensive method of reducing infant mortality.
The moral law of the universe is progress, and progress always offers shock and dislocation to the institutions of the past. Every generation that passes idly without adding to that progress remains uninscribed upon the register of humanity, and the succeeding generation tramples its ashes as dust.
Every age has its problems, by solving which humanity- is helped forward. The solution of any problem cannot be far wrong if it be solved with a desire for the betterment and social advancement of our fellow men.
I should like in conclusion to quote a paragraph taken from Industry and. Humanity, which reads:
The sacredness of human personality is more important than all the other considerations. Without infinite regard for individual life, however obscure or deformed, expressions of social values are meaningless. Estimates of national power, pride in industrial growth, forecasts of world expansion . . . any and all of these which reckon material gains apart from the human losses they involve, mistake for life itself the coarse texture of but a part of the garment of life.

Full View