June 10, 1952

LIB

Robert Cauchon

Liberal

Mr. Robert Cauchon (Beauharnois):

Mr. Speaker, on April 17, 1951, I considered it advisable to draw to the attention of the house the unhappy lot of the older worker when he is faced with the necessity of seeking employment.

Certainly now, as then, officials of the unemployment insurance commission must be aware of the gravity of this problem. To the best of my knowledge, however, no further steps have been taken by the unemployment insurance commission to alleviate the financial worry and mental distress which haunts these Canadian workers.

At the time the matter was not as urgent as it now is, in the light of our immigration policy-which, understandably, tends to give preference to younger immigrants-and of recent unemployment statistics.

I feel strongly that the unemployment insurance commission has a duty to our ageing Canadian workers, the duty of directing them info new fields of employment or, if need be, of training them in skills suitable to their aptitudes and age.

Though the commission has done nothing in that matter it has not been reluctant to adopt a new policy in respect to appeals. Without, I am certain, consulting the minister it has adopted a policy surely not designed to promote the best interests of those whose welfare it was set up to serve. I am speaking particularly of those of the unemployed who wish to appeal the decisions of the unemployment insurance commission.

Unemployment Insurance Act

No longer are these appeals heard in their local courts of referees. An appellant in my constituency must travel to Montreal. Do the gentlemen responsible for this reversal of policy not realize the financial hardship it imposes? Being without a job, the labourer cannot afford the expense of his fare, his meals and transportation costs within the city, all in addition to the expenses of his witnesses. He may then find that his case is delayed and that he will perhaps have to make another trip. Under such conditions, and a natural fear of becoming involved in legal "red tape", he may forgo his right of appeal.

Upon inquiry, I have found that the principal arguments advanced in support of the policy are as follows:

1. Certain courts of referees are not qualified. Does that mean that the entire system is bad, that we should scrap it? I contend that it does not, that there are many quite capable of handling the cases brought before them. No system is perfect; certainly not the one which is now being put into effect.

2. Decisions of many boards are unwise and, consequently, costly. If that be true, the commission would be better advised to appoint competent men. The responsibility is theirs.

3. The costs of appeals heard in Montreal are lower than the costs of appeals heard in local courts of referees. This, the commission contends, is due to the longer time taken by the local courts and to the fewer cases tried. The cost of each case is thus proportionally higher.

If this argument be valid, let us adopt the same principle in the administration of justice. Imagine, if you can, accused, plaintiffs, defendants, their lawyers and innumerable witnesses, all trekking to Montreal from St. Hyacinthe, Joliette, Drummondville or St. Jean, or those from the towns and villages of the Gaspe travelling to Quebec city. Obviously, this is in the best interests of economy, but is it in the best interests of justice?

Our system of justice I am proud to say ranks second to none, and I speak from my twenty years' experience as a court reporter in the province of Quebec. This is also true in the nine other provinces. As for the judges, for them I have only praise. They fulfil their duties conscientiously and well, without for a moment forgetting their responsibility and privilege, the responsibility and privilege of guarding the rights of the individual. Indeed, it is fortunate that the judges throughout Canada do not administer justice as the unemployment insurance commission now seeks to administer it, that is,

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO INCREASE RATES OF BENEFIT, TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF WAITING DAYS BEFORE RECEIPT OF BENEFIT, ETC.
Permalink

S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS


Unemployment Insurance Act after the manner of cars rolling off the assembly line where one must come off the line completed in a given unit of time. Moreover, the aim is to reduce the overhead by producing more cars. I can prove that this is the method advocated. To call the local courts, five cases must be tried within a seven-day period. Only under these conditions can the unemployed in our constituencies be spared needless expense, worry and loss of time. Perhaps the commission would likewise abolish sittings of local criminal assizes on the ground that only one case is tried in a year. The commission has charged these courts with incompetence; nevertheless, it would seem that they are incompetent to try only one case, but quite competent to try five cases in seven days. Is this logical? If our system were in need of improvement or change our Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), who is recognized in Canada and elsewhere as an outstanding lawyer, would have introduced legislation into this house to effect such improvement. Today, the tendency is towards decentralization, certainly in industry, and that we insist upon it in government is proved by the system we have adopted. Is decentralization any less desirable in the matter of a citizen's right to appeal to a higher tribunal? Mr. Speaker, I contend that this commission was set up to serve the workers. We of this house know it, the hon. minister knows it; it might be well to remind the commission of it. An unemployed worker, faced by expenses he either cannot afford or cannot possibly meet, may thus be deprived of a basic democratic right, the right of appeal. Democracy recognizes that right. His payments to unemployment insurance are for the express purpose of assuring his right to a degree of economic security. Should he be deprived of it? We expect efficiency in our government agencies; we laud their efforts to reduce costs and prevent waste, but I do not believe that-as in this case-we want it at the sacrifice of right and justice. The purpose of the legislation was not the cheapest possible administration. That the commission has full authority in these matters is unquestioned, but all authority carries with it responsibility and must be subject to scrutiny to assure that these responsibilities are carried out in the spirit of equity and justice. Upon the commission lies part of the responsibility of maintaining industrial peace, of providing security for the industrial worker, thereby laying the surest foundation of a democratic government, which is a happy, contented [Mr. Cauchon.l people. Such a foundation can be best laid by giving our people tangible proof that their government is continually alert to protect their rights. I should like the minister to request the commission to take steps to improve the lot of the older workers whose productive years can contribute much to Canada's growth. At the same time it might be asked that we stay within the status quo with respect to appeals from the decisions of the officials of the unemployment insurance commission. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Robinson in the chair.


LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Mr. Chairman, at this stage I should like to make a few comments on points that were discussed the other day and some that were raised this afternoon. I was of course greatly pleased by the approval expressed by hon. members with respect to the establishment in the operation of our national employment service of the principle of non-discrimination. While there may be a good deal of difference of opinion as to the method of accomplishing this, I am quite sure that in general all members of the house are in full accord as to the principle. Therefore, while it has been in the manual of instructions of the unemployment service, I and the government felt that we might well assert the will of parliament in this matter in the statute itself in the field of federal placement of workers seeking employment.

The operations of our employment service are very closely associated with the personnel departments of private industry. Therefore I feel we may be able to help by example, persuasion and precept to forward the progress that is being made in Canada toward tolerance and non-discrimination. I am quite sure it is in that field of persuasion and example that the greatest progress can be made rather than by the use of policemen, law courts and prisons.

The hon. member for Hamilton West reviewed the present status of the unemployment insurance fund and expressed her confidence that it was in a healthy state. She made a rather mild suggestion that the commission and the government might be a little less cautious in the improvements that are suggested at this time. I think we must bear in mind that, in spite of the fact that we have had some years of heavy unemployment, particularly during the past winter in the great cities of central Canada and two years ago in the far ends of the country, the unemployment insurance fund has not yet met its great test. We may have differences of opinion with respect to whether it was

intended to cope with such a situation as existed between 1930 and 1939, but even so an intermediate test has not yet been imposed upon it. This was kept firmly in mind during all the hearings and the studies, which have taken almost two years, of the commission and the advisory committee whose duty it is to advise on the protection of the fund.

I shall touch briefly upon some of the points raised and perhaps might discuss later in the estimates any I happen to miss. First of all I should like to say something more about the fund itself. The extent of unemployment upon which the finances of the act were based was that prevailing during the years 1921 to 1931, both inclusive. On the average during those years the percentage of idle time to total working time amounted to 11-4 per cent. The best year of all was 1926, when idle time represented 7 * 5 per cent of the total potential man hours, and the worst year was 1931 when the percentage rose to 21-8 per cent.

The rates of contribution were set on the assumption that the fund might have to carry an unemployment load averaging 12-5 per cent over the years. In 1933 the percentage of unemployment rose to 30-4 per cent during three months, and for the whole year averaged 26-6 per cent. The balance in the fund at 30th April, 1952, was $782 million in round figures. The number of people contributing to the fund varies from month to month, of course, but it is safe to assume that there are over four million people who have some claim on the fund should they become unemployed. Therefore it will be seen that there is a little less than $200 in the fund for each person who might claim.

If the average benefit is assumed to be $20 a week, this would mean ten weeks benefit for everybody who is insured. If we had a 25 per cent unemployment, which is less than we had in 1933, there would be forty weeks benefit for those needing assistance, and this would be short of the amount required to carry an unemployment average of 26-6 per cent for a full year. The unemployment insurance advisory committee, of which I spoke a moment ago and on which are representatives of both national labour and national employer organizations, has a statutory responsibility to inquire into and report on the state of the fund. I am going to quote paragraphs 8 and 9 from their report covering the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1951. They read as follows:

It is of interest that the ratios of benefit payments to regular contributions for the two fiscal years 1949-50 and 1950-51 were high having regard to the level of employment. After excluding (1) the amounts paid out in supplementary benefit; (2) the

Unemployment Insurance Act special contributions made in respect of such benefit; (3) the cent a day of contributions not taken into account up to July 1, 1951, in computing benefit payable to claimants in the new class 8, and (4) contributions made by the government on behalf of veterans of the armed services, these ratios of benefit payments to contributions are: 1949-50, 71-2 per cent; 1950-51, 65-7 per cent. The high percentage of payments as compared with contributions was noted by the committee.

The fact that so large a proportion of the contributions was required to meet the benefit payments in a year of high employment shows that there may not be an unduly large margin for bad years. It is reassuring, therefore, that as a result of the sustained high level of employment ever since the act came into effect the fund provides a substantial reserve against adverse conditions.

The four major amendments which are being proposed at this time will all increase the outgo from the fund. All these amendments have been unanimously recommended to the government by the unemployment insurance advisory committee. In reply to some hon. members who spoke this afternoon, I might say that that unanimity includes representatives of the great national organized labour bodies. Had the committee felt that we could justify a greater increase in benefits, a shorter waiting period or other concessions, I am quite sure they would have so reported. It is quite true, as was pointed out the other day by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, that certain parts of the social security legislation may possibly be operated without accumulated reserves. The new federal old age pension plan might be an example of that. In the case of unemployment insurance, however, the amount of unemployment which will occur at any given time or for any given period is not nearly as easily forecast as the number of people who will reach the age of 70 at any given date in the future.

It was further suggested, I think by the same hon. member, that "a plan which operates on a comparatively short term financial basis of ten years with reserves sufficient to cover two years of benefit payments is socially a sounder instrument of policy than a fund which piles up reserves." From the portions of the report of the advisory committee which I read a little while ago, it does seem that that committee is fully aware of this line of thought, and it would appear that reserves are not being built up to a greater extent than are necessary under a sound unemployment insurance plan.

Strong suggestions have been made concerning cutting down the number of waiting days, or even cutting them out altogether; certainly the suggestions go beyond what is recommended here. Before discussing that point, I think I should like to take a moment to discuss this tricky little thing known as

Unemployment Insurance Act the non-compensable day, upon which everyone seems to get caught just as I did. The rule is that the first day in any period of unemployment is known as non-compensable, unless it follows a period of unemployment of less than four days. There may not be more than one such non-compensable day in one week. There are reasons for that, other than just sticking in the odd day of grace.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Is that a good term, "day of grace"?

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

No, it is not. If an insured person loses no more than one day in a calendar week, he is not badly off. If he is fully employed except for one day here and there, there would be no call for unemployment insurance in this case. It is rarely possible to place an unemployed person on the very first day of his unemployment, and to pay benefits for such single days of unemployment would add greatly to the administrative costs. The rule prevents the dissipation of an insured person's benefit in payment for single days, and encourages him to conserve his benefit for periods of longer unemployment. A provision of this kind is essential to any plan of unemployment insurance to eliminate petty claims and keep contributions within bounds. In the financial calculations made in 1940, it was estimated that the elimination of the one non-compensable day would have cost an additional 3-5 per cent in benefits paid.

Perhaps I should say a word about the waiting period proper. I think perhaps the members who made suggestions here are seeking, as were the framers of the act, to provide the maximum for the unemployed person at the time the need is greatest for the least possible deduction from his pay. The same thing holds true in automobile insurance, where all petty claims that the ordinary person could fairly readily handle are cut off. The amounts deductible are for $25 or $50, and are based on the man's ability to pay. In this way he might be protected against those things that will affect him most. It is usual to exclude small claims up to those figures I mentioned. A great many persons lose a day of employment here and there in the course of a year, and that is not so very serious. Normally they can take up this slack within their regular budget. Such small losses are practically a certainty in many industries where weather conditions, shortages of material or of orders may be a factor.

By excluding a limited number of such days the cost of the contribution is kept much lower for the insured persons, and claimants are encouraged to conserve their

benefits for occasions when loss of employment is of material extent and the real claims of other claimants are not buried by a large number of applications for one or two days benefits. The exclusion of the first week, or six days if you insist on including the non-compensable day, in a benefit year is not I think to be considered unreasonable.

The opinion has been strongly expressed in this debate that the Unemployment Insurance Act should be extended to cover just as many categories of workers as it is possible to cover. I can tell the committee immediately that that is the view of the commission, the view of the minister and the policy of the government. It is not quite so easy, as hon. members know, to do that. Referring to what the hon. member for Bow River said this afternoon, I should like to give a brief breakdown of the figures. As of August 18, 1951, the Canadian civil labour force was estimated to be as follows: Paid workers and insured, 2,915,000-I am giving the round figures- paid workers, non-insured, 934,000. Then there are other non-insured persons, own account workers, 933,000; unpaid family workers, 364,000; employers, 197,000. The total in that second category is 1,494,000. The grand total, including paid workers, is

5.343.000.

Now, of the paid workers 2,915,000 or 76 per cent were in insurable employment;

934,000 or 24 per cent were not insured, including three main groups. First, there were employees of the permanent public service, federal, provincial and municipal employees, and employees of hospitals and charitable institutions. The number of these is approximately as follows: Federal public service, 60,000; provincial, 65,000; municipal, 30,000; hospitals and charitable institutions,

115.000. This makes a grand total of 270,000. The question of bringing them under the act, or parts of the categories I have mentioned, is under continuing study.

I believe I should point out to the members of the committee that the solution to this problem is not as easy as it sounds. For some time a very careful study has been made as to the advisability of bringing a portion of the hospital workers of Canada under the act. It worked out to about one-fifth of the total number, particularly those in the nonmedical categories and those who normally, outside the hospitals, would come under the Unemployment Insurance Act. Rather than be dictatorial and place it on whether or not the hospitals could raise the money to add this little bit extra, the hospitals were advised as to the intention; and I think perhaps some hon. members might be surprised at the forceful way in which they expressed themselves to the effect that it

would be extremely difficult for them to adjust their budgets to take care of this extra cost. I might say the commission has not receded from its position, but it has felt that the hospitals ought to be given a longer period in order to see how they can adjust their budgets in this regard.

The second group includes persons engaged in agriculture, fishing, private domestic service, private duty nursing and teaching.

They are distributed as follows:

Agriculture 120,000

Fishing (excluding self-employed) .... 7,000

Private domestic service 80,000

Private duty nursing 21,000

Teaching 108,000

Total 336,000

Those are the wage earners who are difficult to bring into a scheme of unemployment insurance. The possibility of a further extension of the coverage to include these groups is under continual review. For instance, as I think some hon. members know, when the horticultural association met here a short time ago they had that subject on their agenda and members of the commission went over and discussed it. If you have read the report of that convention of the horticultural association you will know that they could not see yet how their employees could be fitted in; and perhaps their employees would be more fitted to the scheme than those of general farmers.

The chief problem is to determine when such workers are unemployed. Other difficulties affecting some or all of these groups are the problems of determining who is an employer; how the collections are to be carried out; the large extent to which the same individual passes back from month to month between the status of wage earner and "own account" worker; the seasonability of employment, the large amount of family employment, and the remoteness of the area where the employment is carried out.

The remaining group includes persons who work only in part-time or seasonal employment and who do not particularly desire or need unemployment insurance, and persons whose remuneration is over the insurable limit; that is over $4,800. This group numbers approximately 70,000; seasonal, parttime, miscellaneous number 258,000, making a total of 328,000 in that group. With the interest shown this afternoon I thought it might be worth while, Mr. Chairman, to break the figures down into those various groups.

As to the hon. member for Broadview, I will undertake to look into the special case to which he made reference this afternoon. I cannot quite agree with him that, based on the letter which he quoted, the activities of the

Unemployment Insurance Act commission personnel in Toronto were "bureaucratic". At least there was some evidence there of sympathy. I agree with him that in the related field of rehabilitation of the physically disabled or the physically handicapped, much can be done. Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, as Mr. Speaker suggested that matter might not be relevant to this resolution, I could deal with it when the estimates are dealt with. I assure the hon. member that we will take into consideration that special case which he mentioned.

As to the suggestion made by the hon. member for Bow River and also the other day by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, namely that a sickness benefit feature be added to the unemployment benefit feature under this act, I should like to assure hon. members that the matter has been and will continue to be studied; but up to the present time at least the opinion has been held that sickness benefit should be a part of whatever health plan is developed for this country rather than incorporated into this plan. Even under a more limited plan than this one, and providing insurance against temporary disability only, there would have to be coordination between cash benefits, medical care and rehabilitation services. Basic questions that would have to be decided would include the following: the scope of such a plan; whether it would apply only to wage earners or to other groups such as selfemployed; who would administer the plan; whether provincial and federal jurisdictions conflicted; what sort of disability should be covered; for instance, could a distinction be made between incapacity arising from a specific illness and incapacity which is nothing more than infirmity from old age? How long and how often should benefits be paid to the same claimant? What should be done about contracting out in the case of firms with their own sickness insurance plans; how could claims be supervised in a country like Canada with great distances and sparse population? There are many other questions. I do not want to appear to be raising difficulties just for the sake of raising them; but although they are not directly related to what the hon. member for Bow River said, I think some of them are hindrances in the matter of a sickness plan.

The hon. member for York South again brought forward his suggestion with regard to cutting down delays. That is something, of course, which is separate from the waiting days, because even though there may be some delays after the completion of the waiting days the payment becomes retroactive or will become retroactive now after the five waiting days.

3092 HOUSE OF

Unemployment Insurance Act

Last winter when we looked into the matter there seemed to he some difficulty in working out with the municipalities an estimated basis while the paper work was being caught up with. I should like to assure my hon. friend that the matter is going to be studied during the comparative lull in unemployment during the summer months. Without a radical change in the conception of the plan, I do not think that my hon. friend's suggestion, that benefits should not be related to the number of contributions, could be worked out. However, we shall look into the matter.

The hon. member for Joliette-L'Assomption-Montcalm and the hon. member for Beau-hamois referred to the question of courts of referees. In this experiment perhaps I could give them what the commission have had under way in that regard. There are 68 courts of referees established in the larger centres throughout Canada. In the year ended September 30 last those courts held 1,584 sittings and heard 11,754 oases. It can therefore be seen that those courts have quite a heavy task. A review of the work of the courts discloses that the cost of hearing each case in this period averaged $5.38 and that in some of the smaller centres, because of the comparatively few cases heard, the cost per case was much higher than that. A half day sitting of the court now costs $50 as against a previous cost of $33, and a full court day costs $70 as against $44. But perhaps more important than the cost [DOT]was the fact that in the smaller centres, where comparatively few cases arose, there were longer delays in hearing the claimants' appeals than in the larger centres. For example, in four of the smaller courts the time taken to hear an appeal has been 30 days; whereas in the larger courts appeals were generally heard within an average of 16 days.

In order to reduce the delays and help reduce the costs the commission decided that in the case of the 19 courts hearing the fewest cases the following changes be made on a trial basis; and I would like to emphasize trial basis to both the hon. members who mentioned this matter. A summary of the trial basis is this. Appeals emanating from the above 19 offices will be prepared as usual and will be held for a period not exceeding seven days. If at that time there are not at least five cases ready for the local court the cases will be transferred to the nearest court where a sitting is being held. And if the chairman of that court thinks that the man should be heard, he can authorize the payment of the man's travelling expenses.

COMMONS ?

No courts have been disbanded at all, and no further action will be taken until those trial procedures have been fully tested.

I know I have not covered all the points that were made, but perhaps hon. members will bring any others to my attention.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

We appreciate the very full statement the minister has made with respect to a number of the points that were raised during the debate while the Speaker was in the chair, even though we may not be satisfied with some of the arguments that he has adduced at this time.

The minister had a fair amount to say with regard to the principles underlying the funding operations under this act. It seems to me that what the minister and those who advise him have not taken into account is the fact that we are living under conditions today that are altered to a considerable extent from the period from 1921 to 1931, both inclusive, on the experience of which the act was drawn.

As the minister knows, and as all hon. members know, we have won a number of pieces of social legislation of no mean importance since the days of the 1920's. We have universal family allowance legislation; we have universal old age pension legislation, at least for those 70 years of age and over. These and other measures mean that there is a certain amount of purchasing power available at all times which was not available in the 1920's, which acts as a cushion against unemployment, other things being equal, that was not possible in the 1920's or 1930's.

We fully agree with the minister that account has to be taken of the possibility of a pretty serious test being faced by the unemployment insurance fund; nevertheless we feel that fuller consideration could be given to these changed conditions. I refer to the changes from the 1920's to the present time. The fact that these huge amounts are salted away in the unemployment insurance fund does seem to me to bear out the point we are making. The minister answered our claims that it would be possible to pay larger amounts than are now being proposed by suggesting that if all those covered by unemployment insurance became claimants the fund would last for only a certain length of time. I suggest with great respect that that is a bit fictitious. No life insurance company would base its solvency on the hypothesis that all of its insured people were going to die in the same year. No fire insurance company would base its claim to solvency on the hypothesis that all of the buildings insured were going to burn down in the same year. I submit that it is equally

fallacious for the minister to claim that the unemployment insurance fund must be tested by its capacity to provide benefits to all of the people who are insured under the fund.

I am glad to note that the minister paid attention to the quotation from Professor Morgan which I put on the record the other day. I agree with him that there is a difference between old age security and unemployment insurance, for the same reasons he pointed out, namely that one is predictable and the other is not so predictable. But I do suggest that there is room for consideration of the principle that Professor Morgan and others have enunciated, namely that you should try to provide that the benefits of a fund such as an unemployment insurance fund will be made available to those who in a current period, during ten years or fifteen years, are paying into that fund. Let us not make the mistake of asking the workers today to provide an unemployment insurance fund for their children or their grandchildren. The minister is right in saying that we cannot put it on exactly the same pay-as-you-go basis as you can with old age security, but you can put it on a more current basis than it seems to us is the case at the present time.

I do not intend to pursue that point any further, Mr. Chairman, but I thought I should express our view on it in the hope that further consideration might be given to our contention that it would be fair to declare a little larger dividend to the insured by increasing by more than the minister has done the amount of the benefit. Speaking of the amount of the benefit, I would hope that before this stage is over the minister might be good enough to tell us what the other increases are. He indicated when we were at the earlier stage that the $21 benefit would be increased to $24 a week. Perhaps he might give us the other increases as well.

The minister also dealt with the contention that some of us have been making that the coverage of this act should be extended, and we are glad to note that consideration is being given to that point. We are not surprised to learn that whenever it is suggested a certain group should be brought under the act their employers immediately object. Some of us who are in the chamber at the present time will recall one occasion in Winnipeg last winter when we were called in by a certain group of employers who wished to protest against their employees being brought under the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act. All of us recognized their particular problem, but still there is no point to social insurance unless you put it on as universal a basis as possible. Our feeling is that some of those who, be they employers or employees, do not want to be

Unemployment Insurance Act covered by unemployment insurance would be the first to expect assistance from the state if they became unemployed. Therefore I am glad to note the minister has said that the government has not receded from its position, but that it is still the government's policy to widen the area of coverage. I wish him to know that he has the support of those of us in this group in the pursuit of that policy.

I feel I must say a word further with respect to another of the matters the minister dealt with. He gave consideration to the case that some of us have made repeatedly across the years with regard to those who go on unemployment benefits, then take sick and are cut off from those benefits, even though there is still no work for them.

I fully agree with the minister that this problem of sickness benefits generally will best be covered under a health insurance plan. I am glad to note that the minister referred to a health insurance plan as something possible in the foreseeable future; and he used a little more hopeful language than we got from the Minister of National Health and Welfare the other night. At any rate that is a question on which the Minister of Labour and I are agreed, namely that we should have such a plan and that it should include sickness benefits.

However, this afternoon the minister confused the issue we have raised from time to time by taking in too much territory. He said he did not want just to be putting up objections for the sake of objections; but f must confess, with great respect, that I thought that was exactly what he was doing. We spelled out a very limited area. We did not introduce the whole broad question of sickness benefits as something that should be attached to unemployment insurance. We want sickness benefits, but we want them under a health insurance program. In this instance we spelled out for the minister a very narrow and limited problem. We pointed out to him that there are persons who become unemployed, qualify for benefits, begin receiving those benefits, and then become sick and are cut off from their benefits because they are sick, even though there is still no work for them. It is that particular group in connection with which some of us feel a start could be made. In his list of objections the minister really took in the whole gamut of the problems associated with health insurance and sickness benefits. As a matter of fact I know that on one occasion when I tried to get consideration of this matter by officials in the minister's department, during the days before he was minister, what I got was a

Unemployment Insurance Act document which went over the whole broad question, rather than over this narrow, restricted problem.

Let me say again, in its narrowest and most restricted terms, what we mean: Here is John Jones who qualifies for unemployment benefits. He starts drawing those benefits, and continues to draw them for a week or two. He becomes ill. The day in the third week when he should go down to pick up his unemployment insurance benefits, and report for work if there is work, he is ill. Mrs. John Jones goes down to collect the benefits. John Jones has never been through this experience before, and he does not know what happens. Of course the man behind the desk says, "Where is John?". "He is home, sick in bed." "Too bad; he cannot draw his benefits." Mrs. John Jones may ask the man behind the desk if there is any work for her husband, and he will reply, "No, there is no work; but that does not matter. He is not able to report for work, and therefore his benefits must be cut off." It seems to me that if a start must be made with a very limited approach, we could at least start with a provision that would specify that a person who was on benefits shall not be cut off from those benefits when he is sick, unless a job has turned up which he is not able to take. In my viewpoint we could go further, but at least let us start with that aspect of the problem, that narrow definition of it. It is this, as I say, which does annoy these people most of all, and which does seem most unfair, when they see that the benefits to which they have become entitled and which they have been drawing are cut off merely because they are sick, even though there is still no work for them.

I hope I have not done the minister an injustice in suggesting that by broadening it he has confused the issue. I do plead once again for a consideration of this point. I fully agree with the minister that the solution of the problem of sickness benefits generally lies in an over-all health insurance program, and I hope he will support me in my efforts to get that. He can give support in places where I cannot give it, namely in the cabinet itself. Meantime let us do something for John Jones, to whom I referred as an example.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (Si. John's West):

Mr. Chairman, I should like to support the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. It seems to me there would be very little hardship in the operations of the unemployment insurance commission if it were to continue to pay benefits to persons unemployed during their illness, so long as there is no employment for them. I do not think

there is the same difficulty about that question as about some of the others to which the minister referred this afternoon.

Among those persons for whom he had difficulty in arranging insurance the minister included fishermen, but he did not enlarge on the matter. I wonder if he has anything to say about the progress being made. I believe I read a little while ago some newspaper comment in which it stated that when he was in St. John's, Newfoundland, the Minister of Fisheries was asked a question on this subject, and replied that the matter was receiving consideration. I would like to know if there has been very much consideration, and if any progress has been made.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I do not believe the question as to who shall be covered by the measure is contained within this resolution.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

Mr. Chairman, it was the minister who raised the matter; and I suggest if he is entitled to discuss it, hon. members should have the same privilege. This is the only question I am asking at the moment. I might add that I am appreciative of the difficulties attaching to this type of worker; but it does seem anomalous that people who work in big plants can be covered by unemployment insurance while the men who bring in the fish are not covered.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. Fair:

Mr. Chairman, the minister has referred to farm workers. Have representations been received by him or the department in connection with the inclusion of farm workers under the unemployment insurance scheme? I have not heard very much about that class of workers. I have not heard that they are to be included, and I would ask the minister to answer my question when he replies.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Mr. Chairman, replying to the hon. member for St. John's West, I believe I cannot add very much to the answer I gave some time ago in response to a question along the same line. The difficulties of collection and of classification I hope are not beyond solution. I can assure him the matter has been under constant study. The same applies to farm workers.

I am hoping the bill will soon be in everyone's hands, but perhaps I could run through the list of weekly benefit changes. The $21 figure becomes $24; $18.30 becomes $21; $15.60 becomes $18; $12.90 becomes $15; $10.20 becomes $12. Then the two lowest grades remain as they are, because they are already about 83 per cent of the average pay-

Those two lowest grades remain at $7.50 and $4.80. Perhaps I could give a more complete explanation in committee on the bill.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. Fair:

The minister did not answer

the questions I asked, whether representations had been received from farm organizations or individual farm workers with regard to being included in the unemployment insurance scheme. I suggest that if he has not had such representations he take up the question with farm organizations throughout the country before including farm workers.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink
LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Perhaps I could answer that a little later. I do know that we have had representations from the horticultural association, to which I referred a little while ago, but I cannot recall offhand all the representations we have received.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in.

Mr. Gregg thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 332, to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1940.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   S088 HOUSE OF COMMONS
Permalink

BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT

ADMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF MEMBERS OF CANADIAN SECTION OF INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION, ETC.

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs) moved

that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:

That it is expedient to introduce a measure to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act to increase the maximum salaries of the members of the Canadian section of the international joint commission: to bring the secretary and all other employees under the provisions of the Civil Service Act; and to provide that all expenses incurred in carrying out the provisions of the act and the treaty shall be paid out of moneys appropriated by parliament for the purpose.

He said: This resolution deals with an

amendment to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act, 1911, which provided, among other .things, that the salary of each member of the Canadian section of the international joint commission should not exceed $7,500; that the salary of the secretary should not exceed $4,000; that the expenses of the commission for office accommodation, equipment and supplies should not exceed $6,000 per year, and that the governor in council may appropriate annually out of the consolidated revenue fund an amount not exceeding $75,000 to meet the expenses of the commission.

The purpose of the amendment is to provide that the maximum salaries to be

Boundary Waters Treaty Act paid to the members of the Canadian section of the commission shall be increased, the salary of the chairman not to exceed $15,000 per year instead of $7,500 as at present, and the salaries of the other two members of the Canadian section not to exceed $10,000 each per year. The amendment will provide also that the secretary and all members of the staff shall be brought under the provisions of the Civil Service Act and that all the expenses of the commission, including salaries, cost of office accommodation, equipment, supplies and one-half of the reasonable and necessary joint expenses incurred by the commission under the terms of the treaty, shall be paid out of moneys appropriated by parliament each year.

The proposal would permit the governor in council to determine what that amount should be and also what the salaries of the Canadian members of the commission should be from time to time within the limits of the new statutory ceilings. I do not think there is anything else I need say at this time.

Topic:   BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
Subtopic:   ADMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF MEMBERS OF CANADIAN SECTION OF INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION, ETC.
Permalink
PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

How many members are on the Canadian section of this commission?

Topic:   BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
Subtopic:   ADMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF MEMBERS OF CANADIAN SECTION OF INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION, ETC.
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I had hoped that questions of that kind might be addressed to me in committee, but that is a simple question. There are three Canadian members, the chairman and two others.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Robinson in the chair.

Topic:   BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
Subtopic:   ADMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF MEMBERS OF CANADIAN SECTION OF INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION, ETC.
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, I am sure we all agree that an act which has not been amended since 1911 might well come under review. I might say that before coming down to the house this afternoon I thought I would look up this statute. Although I have a great many volumes up in my office I could not find one that included this act. It was not even included in the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1927, although the index indicates that it was passed many years ago.

The point that struck me about the minister's suggestion is that if these salaries have not been changed since 1911, no doubt it is time for an increase; but could the minister say a little more by way of defending an increase in the chairman's salary which amounts to 100 per cent. That seems quite a sizeable boost. Could the minister also say something about the work of this commission and the reason for the government suggesting such a big jump in salaries?

Progress reported.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

Boundary Pipeline Corporation AFTER RECESS

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY ACT
Subtopic:   ADMENDMENT TO INCREASE MAXIMUM SALARIES OF MEMBERS OF CANADIAN SECTION OF INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION, ETC.
Permalink

June 10, 1952