November 22, 1979 (31st Parliament, 1st Session)


Céline Hervieux-Payette


Mrs. Celine Hervieux-Payette (Mercier):

Mr. Speaker, during consideration of the bill in committee, I put a few questions to the minister, yet, today, 15 days later, 1 still have not had any replies. I trust, therefore, that this evening he will be in a position to give the figures requested. He said:

Mr. Chairman, the actual numbers I do not know, but 1 will see if I can get them for the hon. member.
[ Translation]
And he continued, and I quote:

We will do that as fast as we can.
I hope he can find the figures, because I was asking some questions regarding the welfare savings which would be made under that program. 1 think it would be interesting to know how many persons on welfare will receive benefit from that measure.
On the other hand, I think I would like to follow on the idea of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) regarding the discrimination in the bill. Even though
Old Age Security
I agree with the bill, I think I owe it to the hon. member to say that this bill is discriminatory for men because those who are 60 will not benefit. Again, of course, 1 do not want to see any measure treating the sexes differently. Even though this measure favours women, I say that men and women should be equal. With regard to this legislation they are not. [Translation]
I continue to point out all the measures we bring in piecemeal to help people. A while ago, my colleague, the hon. member for Lotbiniere (Mr. Janelle), also spoke of the people who were on social welfare before benefiting from that legislation. So we see the negative connotation surrounding social welfare which should not even exist here in the House. I remind hon. members that a bill like this one proves that a responsible government should pass measures under a guaranteed minimum income program, because no matter what the legislation is, even if it is useful and a success, for the widows in my riding-even if they do need the money they receive-to qualify for it they have had to live through a bereavement, as the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) mentioned a while ago, I believe discrimination is clearly involved here, that of widowhood, and to my mind that is absolutely unfair.
Just the same 1 would like to commend the minister for the amendments he has made to the legislation. 1 believe one does not repair an injustice by handing out more money but at least this time we bring in an amendment. The minister did manage to redress a wrong that was caused to persons who were not covered under the act. 1 would still like to point out that I obviously deplore the fact that this measure was not introduced earlier and that it is not part of a global guaranteed minimum income package; however, I can only voice my approval for an income support measure which bears the hallmark of a Liberal rather than a Progressive Conservative initiative. In any case, I think the people in the Mercier constituency will benefit from it, but as I said earlier I deplore that a woman has to be widowed to be eligible because I believe it is sad enough to lose her husband to be able to qualify and to change her status as a welfare recipient or as a state pensioner because of such a qualification. I can only express to the government the hope that this measure is only the first step toward a guaranteed minimum income.

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