Forgive me; Latin is Greek to me.
As I said, Mr. Chairman, I beware of the Greeks even when they are bearing gifts, especially when we consider the stand taken in the past by the Conservative party with regard to various social measures which were proposed in this House.
I support this resolution for a further reason. It is because in my last speech in this house, during the first session of 1957, as you will see on page 507 of Hansard, I took the defence of this class of old people and urged the government to consider the advisability of paying old age pensions when people reached the age of sixty, because old people find it very difficult to obtain employment today.
Old Age Security Act
In fact, it is admitted that today a man of forty does not easily find employment. It is of course all the harder for a man in the sixties. I therefore repeat my request that pensions be paid to old people when they reach sixty years of age unless consideration is given to the advisability of granting pensions to all people aged sixty-five or over without the means test.
However if I rose to take part in this debate, it was not only to approve the government's decision with respect to old people but particularly to blame it, as was done today by the hon. member for Montmagny-L'lslet (Mr. Lesage), for failing to submit any plan to help out large families by increasing family allowances. Admittedly a great many old people are in need of assistance, as all hon. members have agreed. When old people are in need, sometimes their children come to their help, thus filling a duty they owe to their parents. However, in the case of large families, most of the time the breadwinner is alone in assuming the support and care of his family. He is the one who, with very limited resources, must face the numerous problems which beset a large family. It seems to me that while taking care of our older people, we should pay particular attention to the fathers of large families who have difficult problems to solve, problems which crop up from day to day, such as illness in the home.
Every day, or at least every week, people come to our offices to show us hospital bills running up into the hundreds of dollars, which they are in no position to pay because of their insufficient means. That is one of the problems facing the father of a large family who must see to it that his children are clothed and provided with certain necessities so that they may attend school, and on top of that is faced, in case of illness, with very heavy obligations.
Mr. Chairman, I believe we should take particular account of the fate of these large families by considerably increasing family allowances.
And as was stated a moment ago by the hon. member for Montmagny-L'Islet, I must say that I doubt we can achieve this result, even though we make the request. If by any chance we did so, I would be the first to rise to congratulate the government on having brought about a reasonable increase in family allowance benefits. Still once more,
I must say that I am very doubtful that this can be brought about if we think of the stand taken by the Conservative party, -and I repeat that-regarding every social security measure introduced by the Liberal party. Let us remember that a few years ago the former leader of the opposition went up and down the province of Ontario saying that he saw no reason why bonuses should be paid to the children of the province of Quebec.
That attitude in itself hampered the efforts of the Liberal leaders who always tried to ensure national unity. Moreover, it was also, -and the word may sound unkind-a callow attitude with regard to the heads of families. It was a lack of understanding in respect of the social issues and the way to handle them.
Mr. Chairman, I was just saying that we have not had any legislation to increase family allowances submitted to us. If, however, our remarks made on this side of the house with regard to social measures had the happy result of bringing about an increase in family allowances, we would be the first to congratulate the government and, at the same time, to recognize the merit of those who would heed our representations.
As some hon. members have already mentioned, the step taken by the Conservative party appears to be very significant. In fact, the government is asking us to vote a sum of about $90 million; now, if I may once again use the words of the hon. member for Montmagny-L'Islet, this sum is about equal to the one mentioned at the time of the last estimates, but for both classes, that is our senior citizens and the children. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, in closing I repeat that I support the resolution now under consideration, and I would ask the government to consider kindly and seriously, the possibility of increasing the rate of family allowances, because heads of families have to face even more onerous problems than our senior citizens.
Topic: OLD AGE SECURITY ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS RESPECTING ALLOWANCE AND RESIDENCE QUALIFICATIONS