Mr. R. E. Reinke (Hamilion South):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on this occasion to speak very briefly on two or three matters that are of paramount interest to myself, to the people
of my constituency and to Canada as a whole. First of all may I sincerely congratulate the mover (Mr. Hanna) and seconder (Mr. Robichaud) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. Both these hon. gentlemen lived up to past traditions in that respect.
One of my reasons for speaking at this time is to pay tribute to my friend the late Mr. Ross, former member for Hamilton East.
I know that when parliament assembled last November the usual eulogies were expressed, but I do wish to pay my respects on behalf of the people of his constituency and of Hamilton. Mr. Ross was one of those persons who very seldom spoke in the house, but our people back home appreciated a quality in him which was much more important, that of getting things done. I wish he could have been here yesterday when the estimates were tabled to see the results of some of his endeavours. I wish to thank the Minister of Public Works and the government for their understanding of our problems in Hamilton and their confidence in the future of our expanding city.
This year, according to the 1957-58 estimates just tabled, the Department of Public Works will be spending $1,700,000 for harbour improvements and developments. These expenditures have been brought about to a great degree by the tenacity with which the late Mr. Ross represented Hamilton East. For the information of hon. members I might also add that while this large amount is to be spent in Hamilton, the benefits will be felt throughout the surrounding area over the next few years. Hamilton is the hub of shipping for this area. We rank third in all Canada for tonnage shipped. It is the hub for such cities as Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Guelph and so on. Once again, as I have said, we have broken the tonnage record for Hamilton.
I now wish to say just a word about another matter of great importance. Many members of this house have spoken about an increase in pension for the old age pensioner. I have subscribed to this measure from the day I first arrived here, and I am pleased that this worth-while cause has caught fire. This is a problem of interest to everyone. We all expect to be senior citizens some day. The welfare of our senior citizens is everyone's business. Life expectancy is increasing, so it is becoming more and more necessary that greater attention be paid to this group. I believe an increase at this time will greatly enhance the opportunity for full employment, in which the government has always been interested. It will put more money in circulation, will cause
The Address-Mr. Reinke more goods to be consumed in Canada, and will contribute toward a more orderly distribution.
I do not believe that by increasing the old age pension any incentive to thrift or economy will be lost. On the contrary, every dollar paid to old age pensioners will be spent on goods and services, and will help create a better standard of living for others. It is indeed demoralizing in our economic and social system to have one group of people live under stringent circumstances. I realize, of course, that an increase in the old age pension will present a problem to our government. According to our estimates, just tabled, family allowance payments in 1957-58 will amount to $412,265,000; old age security payments for 1957-58 will amount to $392,536,000, making nearly $805 million for these two important items alone.
An increase of $20 per month would bring our expenditure for old age security to nearly $600 million, or the two combined to nearly $1 billion, almost 20 per cent of our total budget. But I believe most Canadian citizens are anxious to pay for these allowances, and when I say "most" I include persons in both high and low income brackets. I have not had one complaint about the 2 per cent deduction added to personal income tax for this purpose, and if necessary I am sure the average person would gladly pay 3 per cent to give our older folks a better life.
I feel, however, that some of our provinces have been rather shoddy in their approach to this problem of assistance to our aged. I believe that people today are expecting more in the way of security, and are prepared and anxious to pay for it. In an article appearing in the Ottawa Journal of yesterday I notice that reference is made to the new tax-free pensions in Germany. I have not time to read the article now, but just briefly it indicates that under present economic conditions there, a man retiring after 40 years of work would get a tax-free pension of up to $110 a month, the equivalent in purchasing power of about $220 here. The amount would increase in the case of inflation. The opposition socialists say the plan does not go far enough. Of course I suppose socialists, like our friends opposite, are the same anywhere in the world. It seems to me that this is a comprehensive type of plan and one which we probably could not extend that far.
On a former occasion, Mr. Speaker, I spoke rather elaborately about the national health insurance plan. I do not propose to deal with that matter at this time, except to say that in view of the generous proposal made by this government for a plan which will cover
The Address-Division all Canadians I think it is a shame that at least one of the two larger provinces does not accept the proposal. I hope the people of Canada, and particularly those in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, realize that without this acceptance by one or the other of these largest provinces we cannot have a majority of Canadians participating, and the rest of Canada is to suffer as a result.
Topic: S82 HOUSE OF COMMONS