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


Ovide Laflamme


Mr. Ovide Laflamme (Montmorency):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking for a few minutes on the amendment proposed by the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis), I would simply like to make a few remarks in the light of the speech he made earlier when we proceeded to government orders.
I would like to say how surprised I was to find that in such a proposal coming from the leader of the NDP, some people saw a purely demagogic attempt to try and establish the principle of universality in regard to family allowances.
When, on the one hand, the theory which he expressed earlier tends to show that too many people receive more from the government, and on the other hand, under Bill C-170 introduced by the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro), we try to give poor people greater assistance, I really fail to see and understand the substance of the amendment proposed by the member for York South, particularly when he tries to establish the principle of universality-which, in my opinion, reflects his complete irresponsibility in matters of social security and administration.
When, as was the case a moment ago, it is contended that the first concern, when passing social security legislation such as that dealing with family allowances, should be the needs of the recipients, I suggest that this is a distortion of the concept of social security. Such legislation was never conceived, and logically cannot be conceived to correspond directly to the needs of recipients, without taking into account the government's disbursement capacity.
As the hon. Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro) realizes, every dollar added to family allowances for Canadian children would create an extra load of $80 million a year for Canadian taxpayers. It is also understandable that the principle of universal family allowances, established, as suggested by governments, at $15 a month for children under 12 and $20 a month for children up to age 18 would, if applied, represent close to $1 billion more in family allowances than the system recommended by the New Democratic party. And of course there is no mention of increased taxes, no indication as to where the Canadian Treasury could obtain these additional funds.
I sincerely believe that it is unmitigated demagogy to oppose such basic legislation which corrects past inadequacy and attempts to give more to those who most

need it, to push an amendment calling for universality of family allowances, to stir up regrets of those who will be losing their family allowances owing to force of circumstances, although the reasons therefor are well explained in the bill and indicated in the speech made by the Minister of National Health and Welfare. And I really do not see that anything serious can be added to the suggestions and proposals already brought forward.
Before considering carefully the proposed corrective measures designed to improve the family allowances plan, one must first say that the government intends to spend $150 million more in this area. And how does it go about it? Well, quite simply, by extending the age of eligible children from 16 to 18 years, by increasing the allowance to $15 for children of 12, and to $20 for those between 12 and 18. This will cost $150 million more, since the birthrate in Canada has dropped sharply and it is the government's duty to promote the birth-rate through an effective family allowances plan.
Of course, some heads of family who earn over $10,000 a year will no longer be eligible for family allowances. Those may be the families which the leader of the New Democratic Party tried to pit against the government, when the latter attempted to fight poverty through social legislation.
In my opinion, instead of fostering the hatred for the government of those who might lose their family allowances the New Democratic Party might have commended the government for having the courage to introduce a measure really designed to help the most needy in our society.
It is all very well, Mr. Speaker, to resort to all means, as the extreme right party is attempting to do. The hon. member said a while ago that they always wanted to double, multiply and remultiply social welfare measures because the money problem never did exist for them. Therefore, they can solve all issues this way.
Now, it seems to me that, before saying they will introduce welfare schemes, people who believe in reasoning, in thinking things over, and specially in making serious-minded people think things over, should be aware of our ability to pay. And if we do not have it, whenever they ask for new welfare measures, they should have the courage to say who will be taxed more in order to pay for those welfare measures, if they do not want to slip into the habit of the extreme right party-take out the "money machine" and print all you need.
There is no other logic than that, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, coming back to that philosophy, it is always the same thing in Parliament: whenever the government introduces a welfare measure, whenever they decide to give another $150 million for the families who need it most, we can see the opposition members rise in their seats. They would like the amounts to be doubled and tripled but they do not say who will have to pay.
Therefore, if we follow the thinking of the New Democratic party, we would have to find from $400 to $500 million more to apply universality to family allowances, unless they actually say that $15 per month for children
April 19, 1972

up to 12 years of age is too much, or else that $20 per month for children from 12 to 18 is still too much.
Now, if those two scales are to remain the same, it would cost from $400 to $500 million more to apply the universality principle to family allowances. I should like the New Democratic party, which in spite of that is proposing an amendment to this important bill, to tell us where it will get the extra $400 million and from whom through taxes. Then it will show that it has courage and stands behind its actions and is not only indulging in the sad demagogy that we witnessed a while ago.

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