April 19, 1972 (28th Parliament, 4th Session)


Léonel Beaudoin

Social Credit

Mr. Beaudoin:

-the people know. Perhaps I agree. It is why I say that because each time this bill is delayed the mothers are losing a substantial income.
Mr. Speaker, I admit that I am very much concerned about the constitutional aspect of this bill. I cannot understand why the Quebec government allows this breach of our constitution to perpetuate and waives a genuine right.
I would like now to quote from a speech of my colleague the Creditiste member for Champlain (M. Matte) who said in this House on March 27 last:
They will say: That is once more a very particular opinion which does not reflect reality. But 1 would like to prove it by reading an editorial from the newspaper La Presse of Thursday, March 16, and I quote:
The former deputy minister for intergovernmental affairs in Quebec-
That is a man who has served under three different regimes in Quebec and who must know quite a bit about such things.

April 19, 1972

This is an agreement between the prime minister and a provincial premier and not between two governments. Here is what Mr. Morin has to say:
-if the "administrative compromise" proposed by Ottawa were accepted by Quebec and then sanctioned in constitutional legislation, the Province of Quebec would then formally recognize a right to which the federal government is not entitled in the field of allowances. Mr. Morin even voiced the opinion that mere agreement from the premier of Quebec to Ottawa's proposal would be sufficient, in the absence of constitutional legislation, to establish a precedent.
According to Mr. Morin, when all is said, there is more cause fo_ concern than for celebration at the moment if the recent fede al proposal is looked at closely. There is a danger that this prop jsal could annihilate all progress made by Quebec in the constitutional field and postpone for ever the basis of Quebec's claims which is a true sharing of powers.
Mr. Speaker, this is what Quebec wants: an adequate and fair sharing of taxation powers. That is what Quebec wants. As for us, we advocate decentralization in that area so that each region of this country may be allowed to administer itself better.
Mr. Speaker, we all know that Canadian taxpayers are going to take the money which they are given, no matter where it comes from. Nevertheless, we are renewing in this bill a past mistake and infringing upon a provincial jurisdiction.
Once again, these criteria should be reviewed when constitutional conferences convene and I think the time is long overdue for the federal and provincial governments to determine once and for all their respective powers.
I agree of course on the proposal to increase family allowances. I profoundly regret however that the government, if it intends to infringe upon a provincial jurisdiction, has tabled a bill that only raises family allowances by a few miserly dollars and to the benefit of only a few.
Indeed, family allowances have actually decreased since 1945. The cost of living and the average wage are conclusive proof in this regard.
In 1945, the average weekly salary was $32 and it was $132.72 in 1970. So, Mr. Speaker, there has been more than a 300 per cent increase while the average rate of family allowances went up by only 15 per cent. Not only is this unacceptable, but it amounts to a glaring inequity against large families which have to contend with the prospect of an income that is becoming, by the day, more incompatible with the cost of living in Canada in 1972.
Bill C-170 provides for payment of a maximum of $180 per year for children of 12 or under, and $240 per year for those from 12 to 18. This is both laughable and deplorable. I think that if the government stuck to the average salary principle, it should pay a minimum of $257 for the first category, and $334 for children from 12 to 18. This would at least help restore some balance in the family income, taking into account the average income level at present and the cost of living index.
So, the government is just making fun of Canadian families, and does not even offer the rate which it established back in 1945, considering the cost of living index and wage levels. It is giving less and less.
I am aware that we have serious problems in Canada. We are unfortunately the second largest country in the world. Canada has only some 20 million inhabitants, and
Family Income Security Plan
we face serious problems. Thus, we know that it would be easier to give a list of minerals we do not have than of those we do have. Mines are closing down.
Our land is so productive that western farmers have to stop sowing and are paid for so doing, because grain production is too high.
Here, in eastern Canada, we also face serious problems. We have too much milk, too much butter, too many shoes, too many textiles-too much of everything, really. What is scarce in Canada? Money!
Our fishermen have so much fish available that fishing has become unprofitable, because prices are too low. We even allow other countries to come and catch our surpluses 12 miles off our shores.
Our forest industry is also faced with a serious problem. We have so much hardwood that we have to grant other countries leases which allow them to come and exploit our rich forest for indefinite periods. The same problem arises in connection with our soft wood. We have too much of it. So, mills such as those in Trois-Rivieres and elsewhere in Quebec have to close and lay off workers.
Mr. Speaker, I would continue for hours on end in this manner. We have much too much of everything and, because of that, there are thousands of unemployed. And the government will not increase family allowances for fear of increasing too much the buying power. Consequently, goods remain on the shelves in the stores and plants shut down.
The government permits these allowances to be reduced more and more; compared with the average income, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
The day is coming when our empoverished people, unable to find employment, will be faced with only one solution: to beget children. This plan is so discouraging that, when one thinks of it, either one laughs or one cries.
And, in addition to that, Mr. Speaker, payment of family allowances will be made on a selective basis, under Bill C-170. With this bill, we are re-enacting the absurd principle of depriving almost 40 p. 100 of all Canadian mothers of the allowances they now receive.
There are several aspects to this selectivity. First, we have the moral aspect. Every Canadian mother considers the family allowance cheque she has now been getting for the past 25 years as her sole personal income. I believe that for most of them, that money is the only one they do not have to wrench from their husbands. They do not have to beg month after month for that cheque which they receive on behalf of their children. To take away that cheque, whatever may be the husband's income, is absolutely unfair. This money represents a small measure of financial independence for them, but now, as I said a while ago, almost 40 per cent of those who do receive this cheque now will be deprived thereof.
The government will undoubtedly maintain that only the rich people will be affected. This is quite untrue, because under the new legislation, the gross income of both spouses will be added to make up the basic family income used for the computation of the allowance. People in Asbestos, Bromptonville, Windsor, Weedon, Disraeli, Richmond or anywhere else who earn $6,000 yearly can

April 19, 1972
Family Income Security Plan
hardly make both ends meet with four or five children at home. If one day the wife decides to help her husband by accepting a job in a restaurant which will bring in an additional $4,000 a year, then this family will no longer be entitled to family allowances.
I think that it is unfair. By introducing this selectivity feature, this government is running counter to its own statements. At this stage, I should like to quote the Comments and Recommendations made by the Canadian Council on Social Development on the Family Income Security Plan proposed in the federal government's White Paper of 1970, entitled "Income Security in Canada". This is a statement of policy which was published in 1971. I quote from page iii:
The Council believes that:
(a) (p. 10) Family allowances should be universal, paid to all families with dependent children as a social right thus avoiding divisiveness among families and any element of stigma. The present program-
This concerns the Family Allowances Plan.
-has this feature but F.I.S.P. would eliminate it.
This openly reproves the switch from universality to selectivity involved in this bill.
Further, on page 10 of their same document, one may read, and I quote:
Family allowances should be universal: i.e. paid to all families with dependent children. As such, they would be accepted as a basic social right and would avoid the division of these families into the "haves" and the "have-nots", eliminating any element of stigma in receiving the payments. This result is certainly evident in the present family allowances program in which the entire "community" of such families participates.
Mr. Speaker, in almost the same terms, the statement from the National Welfare Council, published in April 1971, on page 18, reads as follows:
The proposed Family Income Security Plan is very similar to the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Plan because it suggests that couples with children who are better off will finance the increase in benefits paid to "have not" families. Obviously, this explains why this should not be expected to solve the problem.
It must be noted that the National Welfare Council was established by federal legislation.
The government thus makes a clear distinction between the rich and the poor. Those who will receive the family allowances are the poor and the others the rich. Is that the just society of which we have heard so much? Is that the just society about which it is said that proper legislation will be passed in order to finally set it up?
Mr. Speaker, why was the universality principle done away with? Some might claim that it would have been too expensive to do otherwise. So, instead of forever having to start all over again, why did the government not simply bring in a universal plan regarding the changes we are now considering? And there was no need to worry. Through taxation it would have taken back from the rich what would have allegedly been overpaid. It would have had only to declare that family allowances were taxable income. Mothers would also have been able to keep their cheques and we would have had an appearance of equality in Canada.

I am against this principle of taxation, but as long as we are reasoning about the system, we might as well go the whole way. Here, it should primarily be admitted that the family allowance cheque should be considered as strictly belonging to the mother who gives birth to the child.
Furthermore, it would be well to point out that the bill does not provide for automatic increase in keeping with the cost of living. It would therefore be necessary to repeat every two years the process of adjusting family allowances to the cost of living and there will always be a lag for Canadian mothers regarding the income they receive under the family allowance plan, which is most unfortunate.
It is urgently necessary that family allowances be considerably increased, as the inquiry on poverty in Canada has irrefutably demonstrated. The inquiry established that poverty does exist in Canada, although we have a surplus of everything, as I was saying a few minustes ago. According to the report of the Special Senate Committee on poverty, the total poverty rate in Canada is 25 percent, representing almost five million Canadians who, according to the report, are considered to be living in poverty.
At this stage of my comments, I should like to quote a few extracts from the said report, as follows:
The welfare system, at all levels, costs Canadians more than six billion dollars a year, yet it has not significantly alleviated poverty let alone eliminated it. The problems grow; costs go up and up and will, in time, suffocate the taxpayer. The welfare system is increasingly unable to deal with the needs of its clients. It has failed to achieve its humanitarian goals. It deprives its recipients of dignity and provides no incentive or rewards to escape from poverty. It has become punitive and demeaning. It is a mess-a social wasteland and an economic morass.
And the report states further:
Working Poor
Sixty per cent of the poor are not on welfare. They are active members of the labour force, working for little more, or, in some instances, less than they would receive on welfare. For them, there is not even the semblance of social justice. There can be no good reason for their continued consent to a political, social, and economic system from which they receive so little.
Can we afford to maintain a system where going on welfare is more profitable than going to work?
Mr. Speaker, poverty is certainly an inadmissible curse in Canada.
In La Presse of Tuesday, November 11, 1969, one could read that milk consumption was decreasing in the province of Quebec. Why? Because mothers have no money to buy any. Meanwhile, farmers are penalized for producing too much milk. Every care is taken so that Canadians do not receive too much money. Incomes are definitely insufficient in Canada. All those citizens run into debt and so does Canada.
In La Presse of March 9, 1971, one could read, and I quote:
The indebtedness of Canadians with banks, stores and finance companies has increased by less than 5 per cent for the year 1970 and this raise in consumer credit has occurred only during the later half of that year-
As compared to 1969, when the indebtedness had undergone an increase of 14 per cent-
Personal unwarranted loans from chartered banks, the most common type of borrowing, have increased from $4.1 billion to $4.6 billion during the year-
April 19, 1972

Unsecured personal loans went from $1 billion to $1.2 billion, whereas loans against insurance policies rose from $660 million to $745 million.
For 1970, total consumer credit would therefore have amounted to about $11.3 billion.
In the same newspaper, under date of June 16, 1971, one could find the following:
28 per cent of the family budget is spent on debt reimbursement.
In Quebec, indebtedness is a virulent social sore. It exceeds the total government budget of $4 billion, for consumer goods only, said Mr. Normand Caron, of the federation of family savings associations at the annual assembly of the Quebec women's cooperative association.
One has no idea of the disasters it engenders for the individual or the community, stressed Mr. Caron, saying that the percentage of the family budget put aside for debt reimbursement rose from 8 per cent in 1955 to 28 per cent in 1969. .
According to the speaker, indebtedness puts the individual in a state of insecurity and tension and often leads to family disintegration on account of conflits it brings about between husband and wife.
Mr. Speaker, after such quotations, I do not believe it necessary to be an economist to realize that the Canadian people urgently need money and that the government has none. At least, so are we told. But, what is the government if not all the Canadian people?
In 1961, our gross national product reached $39 billion, or $2,143 per capita. Now, with all the sophisticated production facilities available, and also because the Canadian people work hard to succeed, our gross national product amounted to $84 billion in 1970. This means that our production capacity, which all Canadians should share, has more than doubled in 10 years.
Statistics show that the total income of Canadians, that is their purchasing power, amounted to $29 billion in 1961, a difference of $10 billion with the gross national product for the same year.
In 1970, the total income of Canadians amounted to $66 billion compared to a gross national product of $84 billion. As we can see, the gap is widening from year to year even though unemployment is increasing. How can Canadians manage not to get into debt when they only have $66 billion to purchase a production of $84 billion?
And we are aware of the current problems: unemployment, violence and poverty in the midst of an almost miraculous affluence. What are our problems? First, there is that of wealth distribution. This is a problem of justice and the government should take this opportunity to start once and for all distributing our wealth and helping the Canadian mothers by establishing a just society.
Why is the government so stingy when it comes to enabling Canadians to take advantage of their country's production? This is nonsense in 1972. There is no reason why family allowances should not be doubled and paid to all Canadian mothers. Even then it would not be enough, but it certainly would be a right step towards this just society I mentioned before and which everyone is yearning for.
What does the increase of $150 million that the minister was so proud to announce mean, when compared to a gap of nearly $20 billion of products which our wages and incomes do not allow us to buy?
Family Income Security Plan
They say that there would be inflation, that the value of our money would be reduced, that it has never been tried before, and so on. I do not believe so, Mr. Speaker.
My colleague, the honourable member for Bellechasse, proved on March 27 that this had been tried in the United States by Abraham Lincoln, more than a hundred years ago. As we already know, this great president of the United States, born of a humble but respectable family, contributed a great deal to the development of the United States, even though he was not an economist.
If I may, I shall quote a few lines from what my hon. friend had to say in this respect, as attendance was sparse in the House when he made his remarks. I quote:
International finance at that time had taken possession of America as well as Europe, keeping constant watch over its positions. One man dared one day insult it. He had to pay with his life. It was, I believe, the greatest president of the United States.
He was the son of a settler and never had the chance to go to school. But having learned to read from his mother and having studied law at night, after his hard day in the woods or in the fields, Lincoln finally became president of the United States at a critical time when the North and the South were at war.
Gifted with a staunch common sense and led by an unequalled rectitude of mind, Lincoln considered that if private banks make money and have people accept it, while passing it as debts, a sovereign government could make it as well and give it at least the same flexibility. So he asked Treasury Secretary Chase to float successively three issues totalling $450 million in 1862-1863.
In 1938, after a legal fight between financial powers and the government, $346 million were still in circulation, and had the same value as bank money.
Better still, contrary to the bankers' debt money, Lincoln's "greenbacks" did not saddle the United States public debt with one single dollar.
Had this issue come through the ordinary channel of banks, it would have increased the United States public debt from 1863 to 1938 by $10 billion, including compound interest. Were all their money issued by the government in that way, the United States would have no public debt.
The same can be said about Canada. The very existence of a public debt is the evidence of a defective system, of the money being corrupt right from the beginning.
I think that this is a very accurate statement and that we will never bring into effect distributive justice in Canada if we do not alter our indebtedness system by which the rich gets richer and the poor poorer; not the rich man who works, no, but the one who puts his money to work. In the winter, he basks in the sun on the southern beaches and in the summer, he lazes around our lakes fishing now and then, and in the meantime the worker pays exorbitant interests of 81 or 9 per cent for the fun of it.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like, as soon as this bill is referred to the relevant committee, that it be amended so that family allowances can be paid to mothers according to the cost of living and to the principle of universality.
Mr. Speaker, I greatly enjoy criticizing the government, but I do not like to criticize for critic's sake. I would like here to enlighten my fellow members. We, of the Social Credit party, claim to have imaginative solutions which would not be a cure-all because it is very hard to solve problems, since all money matters are by themselves somewhat difficult to tackle in view of the fact that money or the monetary system is always extolled by men. Since

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Family Income Security Plan
man is not infallible, every monetary system has its problems. I do not give this expression the same meaning as does our Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), but I suggest that we should have a more just society and we should start, right this minute to reorganize it on a sound basis.
Moreover, I think that this bill is extremely difficult in terms of its administration and accounting system. All benefit scales are variable: the number of children, their age, the couple's income level or even that of single parents, what is and is not an income, and so on.
I believe that all the troubles arising out of the legislation now before us are almost identical to those of the new unemployment bill we have recently passed. Problems arise every day because of the intricacies of this legislation.
I think that we should look upon the new unemployment insurance act as an example and that the difficulties it is causing should warn us against passing another one like it.
We, of the Social Credit party, have the solution, I believe. And it is unfortunate that there are still people like us who are always suggesting worthwhile solutions to the government. But they do not want to understand. They do not want to amend an act which they recognize, which some of them recognize, as being obsolete and because this act was drafted by some officials, no changes are allowed. Even when we point out the flaws of a bill, the government will never want to make any change.
I am sorry for all those Canadians who have to submit to such a system. One of these days, and maybe sooner than the members opposite think, people will realize how irresponsible is the system under which the present government has held them, and will become aware of the quagmire of hardships and injustice in which they are still being kept back.

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