It does not take long to learn here. In the speech of the minister the other day she said that as the plan now stood it was both fair and practical. I submit that this plan, unless it provides $100 a month at age 65, for a large segment of the population of Canada will be neither fair nor practical. It will not be fair to the present generation of our elderly people. They could very well become the forgotten generation, while we are concerned with making plans for the distant future.
This is a generation which probably has worked harder than any other generation in the history of Canada will ever have to work. This is a generation which has survived two wars. I am trying not to get emotional about this, there is no point in that; I am merely pointing out that this is a generation which has gone through probably the worst economic conditions of recent times. This is a generation which was taxed to provide most of the social capital we now have in Canada. This is a generation that financed our present prosperity, that paid for our roads, hospitals and schools. It contributed to the financing of municipal services.
As someone who has recently come from a municipal council, I can state-and I am sure all hon. members here are aware of this- that there are many people who, after having saved for an entire lifetime to own a home of
Canada Pension Plan
their own, are now finding it almost impossible to meet the cost of maintaining that home. These people come to their local council and ask them to find some way of reducing the taxation on their homes so that they might continue to own something they have worked a lifetime to build. We all know that councils cannot do this sort of thing; they cannot reduce taxation for one person and not for another. Not only that, but they need this type of taxation in order to provide the services which are absolutely necessary today.
When I served on a council I was quite aware of this problem and I am still aware of it. The problem can be met only at this level; and this is why I am appealing to the government to endorse the suggestion that the pension be increased to $100 a month because this is the only way we can help the older people of the country. I think we have an obligation in this regard.
Another matter I want to raise is that I do not think this bill is being fair to the consciences of the young people of Canada. We hear a great deal about mortgaging our future, but I do not think it is the young people who are mortgaging their futures. It is the old people who have mortgaged their future for the sake of the young. I think that the young owe this generation something, and if we must have higher taxes, then let us have higher taxes to meet this cost. We have a deep and abiding obligation to the older people of this nation.
I also do not feel that the provisions of the bill are fair to the economy. In this regard I hope the Minister of National Revenue will excuse me if I seem presumptuous-I have that presumption which comes only to the younger members-but I should like to make a suggestion about how he might be able to find the magnificent amount of $820 million about which he talks so blithely. I think that unless we are prepared to find some way of putting money into the consumer sector of the economy when we are withdrawing almost a billion dollars a year from the Canada pension fund for capital investment, we might find ourselves in very serious difficulty. The economy is going to need consumer dollars. We are not going to get these consumer dollars by withdrawing almost a billion dollars a year for capital investment, worthwhile as capital and social investment may be. I feel it is equally necessary for the government to
Canada Pension Plan
recognize that consumption must be maintained. Unless we are prepared to assure the consumer more income and social justice, there will be nothing practical or fair about the Canada pension plan.
I have no doubt that there are other ways of doing it. There have been rumours that taxes will be cut. I say here today that if the government cuts taxes, if the government feels the economy of this nation is strong enough to cut taxes but does not give an increase in the old age pension, then the government will have a lot to answer for to the Canadian people. The refusal of the government to implement old age security at age 65 will indicate something else. It will indicate that the government has no confidence in its ability to achieve the growth rates outlined as necessary in the report of the economic council of Canada. The report indicates a number of things. It indicates that our national output must be up 45 per cent by 1970; that as many new jobs must be created in the next seven years as were created in the last 14 years; that unemployment must be down again to 3 per cent. We need a growth rate of 5.5 per cent of the gross national product every year until 1970. Employment will have to rise at an annual average rate of 3.1 per cent and productivity will have to be increased.
If the government meets these objectives, which I feel it must meet, there can be no excuse for saying that we cannot afford to pay $100 at age 65. I think it must meet these objectives. It must show its confidence that it will meet these objectives by giving $100 per month at age 65 to our people now. I do not believe there is anything that will establish that degree of confidence in this nation as will such a measure at this time. I feel these goals must be met, without question, if Canada is to reach its potential. A government, committed to such a growth pattern should not tell the people of Canada that $100 per month is not within the capabilities of this nation. The increased tax revenues resulting from this increased growth could easily handle this obligation to benefit our labouring people.
If this growth takes place, income taxes under the present rate provisions may be expected to more than double by 1970. This will be the greatest source of revenue of all and will make it possible, in my opinion, to finance the sort of thing about which we are talking. This infusion of additional money into the economy should go a long way toward stimulating the economy to the objective in 1970.
The Minister of National Revenue, when he talks about $820 million, uses a figure that boggles the imagination. However, when he uses that figure he does not indicate whether or not there are compensating savings if the old age pension is instituted at these rates.
I had intended to put a number of questions on the order paper, but since this debate has been proceeding so quickly I think I might ask these questions of the minister now. I should like to know how much money will be saved when the minister takes into consideration the moneys that are now being paid to people over 65, or who are 70 and who are in receipt of a pension from the disabled persons allowance. I should like to know whether or not administrative costs could be saved by having a universal old age pension. I believe the minister has answered this question, but I should like to know what will be saved in terms of old age assistance, now that I understand the additional taxes from the 3-3-4 formula will be sufficient to raise $278 million by 1970. In view of these increased revenues, no change in taxation will be needed in order to bring the pensionable age down to 65. I should like to know how much money would be saved if a worth-while pension were given at age 65? How much money would be saved from the unemployment insurance fund?
There are people collecting money from the unemployment insurance fund, who are registered with that fund, and who are not unemployed but who are unemployable. They are being financed out of the fund. The Gill commission report has indicated that the fund should be protected. When we are talking about money, I think we should recognize that the government is bearing the entire cost of the administration of that fund. It is subsidizing it to the tune of $60 million a year, and it is using the fund as a social insurance agency. This is an unemployment insurance fund, and the government should accept the recommendations of the Gill commission. It should put the fund on an insurance basis and should release some of that money for old age assistance, where it properly belongs.
There are other programs in which the government is presently involved with the provinces and with the municipalities. There is a hodge-podge of social service programs in this country.
Topic: IS, 1965