Mr. Chairman, I should like to speak for a short time in respect of this item because I was a member of the committee which Hon. Waldo Monteith chaired.
Mr. Chairman, I think I am as good an example of health as anyone in the house, taking my age into consideration. I know some of the officials who are sitting before the minister at this moment and would like to make special reference to the lady who several years ago was private secretary to the then minister of defence Hon. T. L. Ralston.
At that time I had the privilege of being one of the junior members of this house and that was, as you will remember, during wartime. I went to Colonel Ralston's office in an attempt to get a boy released from the army. He was a married man, but because he was married after the deadline he was considered by the army to be single, and was drafted. This man had 250 acres of land and stock to look after. There was no one on his farm except his wife and his aged father to do the chores, and this was in February, during the winter. His wife and father asked me to try to get him released from the army so that he could look after his farm. I asked them whether this boy had asked for a postponement of his draft and they informed me that he had not, on the basis of information supplied by a neighbour to the effect that he would not be drafted because he was married. In any event he was drafted into the army and his father was attempting to do the chores on his own farm and on his son's farm.
As I suggested, I approached Colonel Ralston's office and found that he was not in Ottawa. I might say that Colonel Ralston was one of the finest members of parliament I have ever met. Colonel Ralston's secretary, the lady presently sitting before the Minister 20220-497
Supply-Health and Welfare of National Health and Welfare, informed me that she could not get this young man out of the army, and that he was to be moved from Camp Borden to Red Deer, Alberta. I told her that he might just as well be released now before being moved to Red Deer, because I intended to get him out of the army and there would be the extra cost involved of bringing him back. She said: "What will I do"? I said, "Call the official and try to get him out". She did. They did not believe me. They sent an official down to the farm to see if I was telling the truth, and I was. He was given six months leave and was never back in the army again. That was an example of a good secretary.
I had a letter today from two elderly people between 65 and 70 years of age asking me if there was any chance of the government lowering the age to 65. They do not have much means of support and are not able to work. They were wondering if the age limit could be lowered to 65 and asked me to do all I could to have that done. They also asked whether the pension could not be raised from $75 to $100 a month because they said they have to pay rent and have very little means. I am passing this on the minister without making any comment whether it should or should not be done.
In the first instance however the old age pension was never intended to keep people alive but rather as assistance to them. In this day and age people seem to spend their money as they make it, and when they grow old and are not able to work they fall back on the mercy of the government. I do not know what we are going to do about this situation because it involves circumstances over which we have no control.
I want to speak for a moment about the Canada pension plan. As hon. members know, a Canada pension plan is to be brought forward. We have been trying for some time to have it introduced into the house but up to now we have not been very successful. The other day I was reminiscing in my office and I composed a little poem. I am sure the minister will not object to my reading it because it contains nothing detrimental to her.
Judy tried as best she could
With a pension plan she understood.
But when Pearson and Gordon got through with her script
Poor Judy's plan started to slip.
They mauled it around from pillar to post
'Til there's nothing left but a ghastly ghost.
They're on their fourth translated test
And it seems to me even worse than the rest.
The only hope I see for success
Is let the opposition bring in a test.
Supply-Health and Welfare
They've been a wonderful help in the past
And there isn't a doubt their plan would last.
I am only trying to help the minister. I always like to help ministers because I find that when I am in the opposition it is much better to try to get along with the ministers than to quarrel with them, and you get more satisfaction that way. Having nothing more to say I will be glad to sit down if there is another speaker to take up the time of the house from now until 10.30.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE