February 18, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


Ambrose A. Holowach

Social Credit

Mr. Ambrose Holowach (Edmonton East):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak briefly in this debate and join with those hon. members who have strongly supported the resolution:
That, in the opinion of this house, the government should give consideration to the advisability of introducing legislation amending the Income Tax Act so as to remove therefrom the 3 per cent floor in relation to the deductibility of medical expenses for income tax purposes.

Sir, in my view this resolution merits the support of every conscientious member in this house because it has as its broad objective removing once and for all a discrimination of the worst kind, namely a tax discrimination, which in reality penalizes those who have medical bills to meet. One might ask by what moral precept does this government retain in the Income Tax Act a provision which in practice penalizes those people who are restoring themselves to good health. One might ask what is -the purpose of a law which is so lacking in common sense and is in contradiction to the will of the people themselves. I just cannot imagine why the department itself has not brought in an amendment to remove this inequity. One arrives at the sad conclusion that while we members can rise on the floor of the house and ask that help be given to our people, the government does far too little in this respect.
The resolution before us proposes in an extremely practical way to make all medical bills deductible for the purpose of income tax.
We feel very much that it has a humanitarian concept, that it is morally right, that it will help those in the lower income groups who can least afford a continuation of high taxes and receive little relief from them.
The facts and history of this resolution are well known. It has been introduced year after year and on every occasion either has been voted down or talked out by Liberal members. Those are the same members who run up and down the country expressing themselves as being sensitive to the needs of our people. One of the disheartening features of this stubborn opposition to the adoption of this reasonable recommendation is the fact that the government is constantly inconsistent in its own policies.
One of the great social needs of our civilization is the necessity of inducing our people to endeavour to maintain good health. We believe the best way to do that is to assist them to provide for themselves. Surely no one will quarrel with that statement. On the one hand the government claims it is interested in implementing a national health scheme which if all the provinces participate will cost about $400 million per annum; yet on the other hand the government is indifferent and stingy when it comes to making a tiny concession to individuals so they may be encouraged to make voluntary efforts for the betterment of their health.
It is ironic that last week we should have debated the setting up of the Canada Council to promote the arts and humanities in Canada, 82715-88i
Income Tax Act
and yet see this government remaining indifferent to the fact that basic to the enjoyment of the arts, basic to the creative efforts of our people, is sound health. I submit that the most glaring inequity is demonstrated by a recent decision of the Exchequer Court of Canada to the effect that membership dues in social service clubs paid by large corporations on behalf of their officials may be deducted. Surely if a tax write-off is justified for the promotion of business contacts it should be allowable for the essential business of keeping in good health. The following article appeared in the Montreal Gazette of January 23, 1957:
Court Allows Tax Deduction For Club Fees
The Exchequer Court of Canada yesterday ruled that social and service club membership fees paid by the Royal Trust Company on behalf of its officers can be legally deducted from its income tax.
The judgment, given verbally by Mr. Justice J. T. Thorson, reversed a decision of the income tax appeal board.
The judge said the company encouraged its senior officers to join social and service clubs, having paid 78 memberships in 48 clubs throughout the country in 1952.
The company had submitted the policy was consistent with good business practice and was carried out by other trust companies.
Mr. Justice Thorson said that during the court hearing one of the company officials claimed he had gained many valuable investments for his Arm as the result of a luncheon meeting with a client at a club. Similar examples were given by other senior officials.
The basic issue was whether the policy was good business practice, he added.
We in the Social Credit group strongly support this resolution. We want to see a halt called to some of the insensible features of our income tax law. In this present instance we believe these provisions are inhuman and represent a long-standing injustice.

Full View