June 26, 1956 (22nd Parliament, 3rd Session)


Charles Henry


Mr. Henry:

But I think there is a story behind the story of this motion which is now

before the house and I say it is a similar story which underlies the motion of non-confidence concerning the Speaker of this house. In my view, there is a new outlook as to sportsmanship on the part of the opposition because we can sum up their activities in this way: If you lose a game, attack the referee and the umpire and the officials; then you will feel better. This is indeed a new code of sportsmanship. But we see emanating from the other side of the house likewise a new code of political morals based on national disunity, minority rule and freedom of speech run rampant. Indeed, I see this once famous party which was the party of the fathers of confederation presenting to Canada in these months in this parliament a retrogressive Conservative new deal for Canada. Shades of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Robert Borden! If the day comes when we shall be unveiling a statue of Sir Robert Borden on parliament hill, I wonder how members opposite will be able to go and attend that ceremony for that great man, who was indeed a leader in the field of national unity.
I should like to refer to an article which appeared in the Ottawa Journal in January, 1956, reporting the proceedings of the Progressive Conservative party in Canada, and reporting an event which took place in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) and other top-ranking dignitaries of the party. On that occasion an address was delivered by Mr. Grattan O'Leary editor of the Ottawa Journal and he laid down, as do so many members of the party opposite, a policy for the party in his own way. I wish to quote in part as follows. He said to the party chieftains and the party followers on that occasion:
Our task is to mobilize the spirit of discontent and channel it into support of the Conservative party and the people know we are the only alternative.
This indeed is a fine sounding policy for the successors to the fathers of confederation. As they sow, so shall they reap; and generally, if they are going to rely on disunity and discontent, that is what they will reap. One need only turn to the province of Quebec in order to see what has happened to the Conservative party there. It is practically extinct, save and except for the remnants which remain by way of alliance with Premier Duplessis, based as they are on supernationalism. We can look to the prairies and British Columbia. In that great part of the country Conservatives are not even an alternative; they are not even a desperate alternative. What are we to say of their position with Premier Frost, that great premier of Ontario who took a forthright stand on Canada's
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Request /or Election and Senate Reform natural gas pipe line? What are we to say of the situation within their own party when they turned their backs on their adviser as to natural gas matters during the recent pipe line debate? I refer to the cleavage of opinion between the Conservative speakers in this house and their adviser the hon. member for Calgary South (Mr. Nickle).
On this side of the house, Mr. Speaker, we of the Liberal party have more things to do for Canada than to think about politics and elections at this time. We wish to see a better division of the tax revenues as between Ottawa and the provinces. This is a matter which will come before this chamber in due course. Perhaps at this session good results will come from the solution of this longstanding problem now that we have worked towards a better division of revenues than ever for the good of Canada. We wish to see brought before this house legislation which will enable unemployment assistance to be shared by the dominion and the provinces to cover those unemployed not covered by unemployment insurance. In addition, we believe that the government will bring before the house, before this session concludes, legislation to cover better unemployment insurance for those now entitled to it under the statute. Finally, Mr. Speaker, there is in the process of negotiation as between this government and the provinces the matter of health insurance proposals. Those proposals are of vital interest to the nation. They stand to be implemented and the optimistic spirit which prevails is at an all-time high. We look forward to stage one in the national health insurance before long. We look forward to nation-wide hospital insurance as a result.
Now, let me deal with the dominion-provincial fiscal arrangements briefly. This rearrangement of tax revenues could mean more revenue and better opportunities to fulfil provincial obligations in so far as the citizens of the provinces are concerned. In particular, I am one who looks forward in Ontario to better old age pensions for our senior citizens following upon these fiscal rearrangements. Every member in this house knows that in Ontario now the old age pension is up to $60 at age 65 by reason of joint co-operation between this government and the province. However, I must say that the top figure, $60, is only made available after the application of a very rigid provincial-municipal means test. I think of that great province of ours, Ontario, the industrial giant that it is and greater it will become, but I think it does not stand up by way of comparison in what it is doing for the old age pensioners when we compare what takes place in some of the western provinces. Therefore, I for one would
Request for Election and Senate Reform ask the government to expedite the dominion-provincial rearrangement of fiscal revenues because I feel the government of Ontario under Premier Frost will take second place to none in lessening the rigours of the means test once more revenues as planned are made available in this manner.
I feel, too, that we can always at the federal level look forward to improving our pension legislation because in my city of Toronto there is much need amongst the pensioners. We must constantly be thinking of their needs and problems. They are our senior citizens. In particular, I wish to say a word about pensions for new Canadians. This involves the problem of obtaining more suitable immigrants overseas. If Canada is to succeed in this mid-twentieth century she must have good immigrants from places where immigrants will be found who are suitable to the political and economic needs of Canada. I mention the United Kingdom and I mention Europe. Those places are sources of immigrants, but they are places where old age security is a paramount problem and where good measures exist for those entitled to old age security. How can we expect the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) to obtain suitable immigrants in great numbers for Canada if when they arrive here they have to wait 20 years before being entitled to old age assistance or security? I think, Mr. Speaker, what the government should consider in due course, perhaps at the next session, would be a provision that after a new Canadian becomes a citizen following a five-year period of residence, then that new Canadian should be on a par with older Canadians in obtaining the old age assistance or old age security.
I wish to speak briefly on unemployment assistance and unemployment insurance. I say that it is always a problem with us because in Canada we are beset with problems that arise out of our geography and our weather so we do have regional and seasonal unemployment. This being so, I look forward to the measures which will be forthcoming concerning the sharing of unemployment assistance between the provinces and the dominion and also better unemployment insurance legislation.
Finally, as to health insurance: what is proposed by the government would absorb something like 50 per cent of the cost of hospitalization provided we can obtain the co-operation of more than half the provinces and provided those provinces represent more than half of the population of the nation. Now, the reason for the optimism as to the success of those proposals I think lies in the fact that a recent public opinion survey indicates

more than two-thirds of the people of Canada are in favour of the government's proposals.
At the moment there are considerable health services in this nation of ours handled by public authorities. The indigents in the lower income groups receive a scattered type of health service throughout the country from governments at provincial levels. In 1952 there were limited schemes of health service for indigents in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. One cannot fail to note that according to the 1952 figures there was spent $9.96 per person in Ontario, and $10.84 per person in Nova Scotia.
However, turning to the western provinces, we find that services are much better. In the first place the western provinces had in force in 1952 more comprehensive programs than did Ontario or Nova Scotia. They spent anywhere from $50 to $75 per capita in this field. When I think of the great province of Ontario and the great province of Quebec! Those figures are an indictment against the province of Ontario in particular. Here, in central Canada, we have the great basic manufacturing industries, and yet we have this disparity as to the treatment in health services. This is a basic reason for proceeding with the first stage of a health insurance scheme now, namely nationwide hospitalization.
There are other inequities that we could mention. Hospital plans are to be considered. These plans for hospital services are operative in the middle and upper income groups principally. Private plans cover less than 50 per cent of the population, and this rate of coverage does not proceed at more than a snail's pace. In fact, I think the members of this chamber should be indebted for the research and the publications of Dr. Malcolm Taylor and also for the republication of summaries of his studies in this field of health insurance.
It is estimated that if the private plans were allowed to proceed with their coverage efforts it would take until the year 2000 to cover the whole of the Canadian population for hospital service under the auspices of private plans. Speaking personally, I say this is the mid-twentieth century which belongs to Canada, and it is unthinkable that we in this chamber should have to wait that length of time. Therefore, I see looming, the only way, public enterprise in the field of health insurance and particularly in the field of hospital insurance.
In the recent speech of Dr. Taylor before a national association a good analysis was given of many matters in relation to health insurance, and this was reviewed in the Toronto Daily Star editorial columns too. It

was pointed out that the cost of administering the private hospital plans has proved to be greatly in excess of the charges experienced by the western provinces in their publicly controlled hospital plans. These are matters which we may well consider at this time as we watch the progress made by the government in the matter of its proposals to the provinces. We should consider also the British post-war experience in the field of health insurance. We know that the British government has had a lower cost per capita in the field of health than we have had in Canada, and in the United Kingdom they have an over-all health insurance plan in force. I think we should consider this as a safe guide as we in this young nation follow the experience of the British authorities.
It is noteworthy also that last year the medical authorities of the United Kingdom visited the Canadian Medical Association in Canada and gave every assurance to Canadian medical men that health insurance was something of which they approved in the United Kingdom. It was also discussed this year at the Canadian Medical Association convention and now we see in the daily press that the Canadian medical men endorsed in convention assembled the current proposals as outlined by the government. I would just say this too. We seem to be well supplied with doctors in Canada. The national average is one doctor for every 989 people. In Ontario, we have one doctor for 874 people; in British Columbia, one for every 866 people; in Quebec, one for every 1,012 people; ind in Saskatchewan, one for every 1,288 people. I believe these to be 1951 figures, but they do indicate that if Saskatchewan can implement a hospital scheme with one doctor for every 1,288 people, surely central Canada can respond to the proposals of the government with safety.
However there is one slight reservation I have, and that has to do with our hospital resources. I find that 1953 figures disclose British Columbia operates with hospitals to the extent of 88.9 per cent of normal; Ontario operates with a figure of 67 per cent of normal; Quebec has a figure of 56.2 per cent; and Saskatchewan 87 per cent of normal.
It may be that the government should reconsider its policy of grants in aid of hospital construction, but before doing so I should like to hear from the minister, on his estimates, let us say, as to the state of hospital construction following these figures of 1953. It might be desirable to increase the grants to the provinces to the end that we might have a higher percentage across
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Request for Election and Senate Reform the board, and particularly in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario in the field of hospital construction.
As I conclude, may I say this as to the question of the motion of non-confidence brought against the government on moral rather than on legal grounds? Abroad we must consider the morality of federalism which is the dominating keynote of the NATO negotiations in these days of competitive coexistence. Through NATO, for Her Majesty the Queen and the commonwealth, the Secretary of State for External Affairs is seeking to marshal the forces of Americanism, Europeanism and Canadianism. This is an expanded partnership which will bring much good to the western world and, yes, to the world at large. There is the spirit of what Sir John A. Macdonald was pleased to call the grand design of confederation at home, and, in my opinion, abroad there is what is known as the grand design of NATO, and this must be extended in the spirit of federalism to the fields of trade and other economic matters.
Now, finally let me just speak about what I call the morality of federalism at home. The keynote of federalism at home, the keynote of the spirit of the grand design of confederation, is indeed national unity and not disunity. I for one am greatly put out that the great Conservative party of the past bases its activities in this year, 1956, on the mobilization of discontent, as outlined in the beginning of my speech. I say that on this side of the house we stand for matters which promote federalism in confederation and which promote in particular our national development, dominion-provincial reallotment of tax revenues, better old age pensions, better unemployment relief and insurance. Finally, we hope that in that way we shall attain for this nation health insurance. These things the people of Canada elect, and I do not think that we should elect for an election and play politics.

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