It is because there may be more than a grain of truth in this assertion that I venture to call the attention of the house to certain implications of this policy. First there is the question of cost. The leader of the C.C.F. party is, I believe, on record as estimating the cost at $600 million annually. Such estimates are notoriously optimistic, and the actual annual cost will probably be much greater, perhaps in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars.
I recognize that economic factors are probably not a matter of much concern to the hon. member. Nevertheless I believe the
house will be interested in the economic impact of such social security measures on the economy of countries in which the welfare state exists. France is a country of seething labour unrest, and one is constantly told that French workers are shockingly underpaid. They, however, have very extensive social security benefits amounting to 43 per cent of the average payroll. This adds tremendously to labour costs and illustrates the danger of trying to transform the wage mechanism into a huge social security system. It is obvious that the French workers are paying for their own social security through deterioration of the wage structure. There is constant dispute over how an inadequate cake should be sliced, and a neglect of the real problem of increasing the size of the cake. Let us be under no illusion as to who will really pay for these grandiose plans. It is the worker himself, either through taxes, lowered wage structure, or increased costs of the necessities of life.
All this is not to say that I oppose health insurance. On the contrary, I believe it to be an urgent necessity. There is an alternative method, however, to that proposed by our friends of the C.C.F., which will provide all the benefits of theirs at a mere fraction of the cost to the taxpayer. This party has such a plan which will be presented when the appropriate occasion arises.
The Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) has been taking great credit for the program of health grants instituted several years ago. I do not desire to detract in any way from the over-all benefit of these grants, but would call the attention of the house to a serious defect which has become evident so far as the hospital construction grants are concerned. Under the terms of this grant the sum of $1,000 per bed, to be matched by the province, is provided in respect of new beds added to existing public hospitals, or provided in entirely new hospitals. At first sight this might appear to be a fairly generous amount. I wonder, however, Mr. Speaker, if the minister fully realizes the degree of inflation which has taken place in the construction industry, even since these grants were first instituted. The proportion that this grant bears to the total cost of a hospital bed is much smaller today than when the grant was first instituted.
This leaves a relatively large amount to be raised by the individual hospital. Moreover, long before the advent of these construction grants many of the provinces assisted with hospital construction in variable amounts. In the case of my own province the amount was 20 per cent of the total
cost. At today's prices this would represent a much more substantial contribution than does the present combined federal and provincial grant. I would urge the government to extend the grants to cover a definite proportion of the construction costs of a hospital. Beds are, of course, essential to the functioning of a hospital, but they are no more essential than are other facilities provided by the institution as, for instance, such things as laundries, kitchens, power plants, etc.
In closing I should like to compliment the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) on his skilful handling of the very troublesome Gouzenko affair, and on his very concise and understandable presentation in the house.
I should like also to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) on calling our attention to the necessity for moderation of language where the personalities or actions of a friendly government are involved. International good will is too precious a commodity to be jeopardized, even though it means the restraining of what we may regard as an expression of righteous indignation.
It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the leader of the Social Credit party has made a very fair and judicious contribution to the debate in this matter. I am sorry I cannot subscribe to the implied threat contained in the remarks of the leader of the C.C.F. party that if Mr. Gouzenko should choose to go to the United States for the purpose of giving evidence before the Senate subcommittee, he be informed that all protection so far accorded him will be withdrawn. After all, this man has rendered a signal service to Canada, in recognition of which this country has very properly accorded him and his family such protection as was within our power. Merely because he chooses to go to the United States for the purpose stated, which the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) has said he has a perfect right to do, does not release this country from its rightful obligation. It may be that it will not be possible to assure his security while in the United States -that is not our responsibility-but the moment he again sets foot on Canadian soil our obligation to protect him is just as real as ever it was. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that in this respect the national honour is involved.
Finally I should like to pose a question; and if, as I suspect, the answer is in the negative, I should like to offer a suggestion to the government. Has the government ever considered the advisability of providing a suitable residence in this country for Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, one that might be occupied by the royal family for a portion of each year at her pleasure? If not, I would 8327C-34i
The Address-Mr. Carter suggest that the exigencies of atomic warfare may at any time make such an offer imperative. Apart from consideration for her safety, however, I am sure the members of the house would hail with enthusiasm the suggestion that our gracious sovereign might be prevailed upon to live in our midst, even for short periods.
Topic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE