Mr. EUGENE DUROCHER (St. James):
Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to make a lengthy speech, but merely to pass a few remarks. At the very outset I should like to join with the other hon. members in offering congratulations to the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Tremblay) and the hon. member for Rosthem (Mr. Tucker) upon the magnificent way in which they moved and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the contents of which I am sure must have been acceptable to the great majority in this house. Never in the history of this parliament has such an elaborate programme been presented to the House of Commons for its appreciation and acceptance.
In addition to the assurance of a continued war effort, the government presents a series of social reforms which should satisfy even the most exacting, under present conditions. .First, we find a plan for social security and human welfare; second, a plan for the housing and the health of the whole population; third, social insurance against unemployment, accident, death of the breadwinner from ill health or from old age; fourth, a measure to amend and supplement housing legislation; fifth, family allowances, and sixth, a revision of the Bank Act.
These are the main points which are being brought to our attention. It is gratifying for us to note that such reforms are the work of a Liberal administration. It would be premature to try to discuss these various items at length at the present time, because the details are not known to any of us, and they will not be known until such time as the bills are placed before the house.
For that reason I shall touch upon only one point now, namely that of family allowances.
The Address-Mr. Durocher
This measure is surely worthy of our highest praise, and comes at a time when it is most needed by the Canadian people. It will help families balance their budgets, and bring up their children in a more satisfactory and appropriate manner, and at the same time it will to a certain extent relieve the wage problem in Canada. In spite of the criticism which has already appeared in some newspapers, and the remarks of hon. members, among whom were the hon. member for Cartier (Mr. Rose), the hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. d'Anjou) and the newly elected member for Stanstead (Mr. Choquette), I feel certain the government will see to it that this measure for family allowances covers not only so many children in a family, but all the children under a specified age. Our critics, who do not know all the facts, should wait and see what the government has to offer in this direction. We all want an increased population in this vast dominion of ours. Before we allow foreign immigration we should attempt to encourage large families and help them the best we can.
This government, I feel certain, does not wish to tell parents that if they have so many children the state will help only so many, for this would mean the establishment of a new policy of birth control in Canada, but I suggest that that has never entered the mind of any minister of the crown in the present cabinet. Birth control would be the worst thing that could happen to our society at the moment. We need more and more good Canadians. It is better to encourage large Canadian families and provide assistance from the state than to bring in foreign immigration. The latter does not always prove profitable either from the standpoint of the nation or from the assimilation with true Canadians. I have before me a clipping from La Patrie of Montreal concerning a family of seventeen children. That is the kind of family we want in Quebec. Ten of these children are below the age of fourteen. If we had more families like that our immigration problem would be solved and we would not have to touch it.
It is sometimes hard to get reforms, but a reform is needed in connection with old age pensions. Last year the hon. member for Edmonton East (Mrs. Casselman) took up this matter and drew the attention of the government to the need of raising the allowance. We were all pleased when during the last days of the session the government announced that the allowance would be raised from $20 to $25 a month. We feel that at this session the government should make an effort to increase this allowance to $30 a month and reduce the
age limit from seventy to sixty-five years. When a man or woman has reached the age of sixty-five-this applies to men more than to women-it is hard to find a new position should he or she be out of a job. No employer wants to take on anyone that old because he considers they cannot turn out the production. We should be more generous to these people. I feel certain that the government is going to look into this matter and that before the end of the session we shall have the assurance that the old age pension will be raised to $30 and the age limit lowered to sixty-five years.
I should like to refer now to the housing problem. I know there is a housing problem in every large centre in Canada, but I am better acquainted with the problem in my own city which I suppose is the same as that facing Toronto. Along with some of my colleagues this matter was taken up with the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) last May, and we received the assurance that a survey would be made in Montreal and some other Canadian cities and a report submitted at the earliest possible date. Mr. Fripp of the housing administration was delegated to Montreal. I met him and went over the whole question. He spent some time in the city and then went somewhere else, and in the late fall he presented a report to the Minister of Finance. Nothing definite has come out of that, but just a few days ago I received a letter from the minister stating that the matter was receiving his earnest attention and that he hoped something definite would come out of it within the next few days. I appreciate that he has taken such an interest in this matter.
But the first of May will soon be here and, if something is not done, many people in Montreal, and I suppose also in Toronto, will be out on the street. We are looking after the older people, and we should be ready to do something for those tenants who will be without homes on the first of May. I am told that this is more a municipal problem. That may have been true before the war, but since the government can do anything under the War Measures Act I think it has now become a federal problem. Huge plants have been established in some of our cities and, while much of the population that has come in might be considered as floating population, large numbers of these people will remain. We are now faced with a position that will not improve after the war. If this is a federal problem, let us get after it without further delay. I suggested to the minister that loans bearing an interest rate of one and a half to two per cent should be made to the muni-
The Address-Mr. Durocher
cipalities. Whoever builds a home to-day must spend more money than it is really worth and, if it is built for the benefit of the state, the state should see that the man who invests his capital in a building should not be the loser in the end. There are other matters I should like to take up, but I shall wait until the appropriations are before the house. I reserve the right to discuss them at that time.
Before I close I should like to say a word about our soldiers overseas. Like many others, I have been receiving letters not only from my own but from friends and from boys of my friends. I am glad to say that each and every letter I have received seems to show that our boys are being well treated in England. They are satisfied and hope to see action at the earliest possible moment. That is the spirit we want to see in our boys. But when they come back they will expect something of us and we must have the goods to deliver. We have many social problems in hand and I realize that they represent a lot of hard work. We may not be able to do everything at once, but let us not forget that bricks and mortar are not enough to build new homes in the world of to-morrow.
Topic: QUESTION OP SUPPLY TO BRITAIN THROUGH EXPORT FROM CANADA
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH