Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquiilam):
Mr. Speaker, may I direct a question to the Minister of Finance regarding the Bureau of Statistics report concerning the cost of living index, which for April of this year reached 137.7 as compared to 135.0 for April 1964. This represents an increase of 2.7 percentage points. I wanted to ask the Minister whether his Department has set up any machinery for a constant review of these increases in the cost of living, in view of the fact that they represent a greater increase than was considered reasonable by the Economic Council of Canada. Could I ask the Minister also whether there is any review of the relative profits of the various sectors of the economy, to ascertain whether these increases are warranted?
May 7, 1965
Inquiries of the Ministry
Kon. Walter L. Gordon (Minisler of Finance): In the first place, Mr. Speaker, like all hon. Members I deplore and deprecate any increase in the consumer price index. In this particular case, as I indicated in the budget speech and as I have indicated earlier, there has been an increase of 2 per cent over the past year. I would hope that when these figures are mentioned it will be made clear that, as my hon. friend said, the increase is 2.7 percentage points. The hon. Member was very careful to do that. But that works out at 2 per cent over the year. That is the rate of increase that I mentioned in the budget speech. It is also, incidentally, the rate of increase that was mentioned in the review of the Economic Council.
No one condones or is happy about an increase of that kind; but as I have said on other occasions, it happens to be the lowest rate of increase of any industrial country in the world in the last year, except the United States. I can assure my hon. friend that I get a detailed analysis prepared by my Department of the make-up of these increases or decreases month by month. I do not happen to have it this morning, but I had it yesterday when I expected the question would be asked. Naturally the Government watches this closely and continuously.
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR REVIEW OF COST OF LIVING INCREASES