Mr. Speaker, during the standing committee hearings on this bill and, indeed, during second reading debate, hon. members on both sides of this House voiced their support for an amendment to be made to enhance further the effectiveness of the amendments in Bill C-6. Specifically, it was proposed that the bill be amended to reinstate all of those spouse's allowance recipients who had been cut off the program since October, 1975, because of the death of the older pensioner spouse and who still meet the other eligibility requirements. That is, anyone who has not already turned 65 or remarried, and who is still otherwise eligible, may be reinstated on the allowance with effect from November, 1979. Cabinet has seen the wisdom of this proposal and has approved this change so that there will not be two classes of allowance recipients, pre- and post-amendment.
As a consequential amendment and to maintain the spirit of the change, pensioners currently serving prison terms of more than 90 days will also have their benefits reinstated.
This change is not without some cost. An additional amount of approximately $6 million in 1980-81 will be spent to benefit the some 3,000 more people who will now benefit from the program. The gains, I am sure all hon. members of the House will agree, however, are far offset by the equity which is involved in the proposed changes.
Since this is my first attempt at report stage and third reading, I might say that it was a good experience from my point of view in that hon. members from all sides participated in the change. It was agreed to, and I therefore conclude with the thought that it has shown me, and perhaps others, that indeed the parliamentary process is a good forum for an effective exchange of opinions.
Old Age Security
Subtopic: OLD AGE SECURITY ACT