June 4, 1951 (21st Parliament, 4th Session)


George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that
all hon. members will join in the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) as to our appreciation of the speed and courtesy with which the parliament at Westminster has dealt with the request put forward for an appropriate amendment to the British North America Act. Undoubtedly they have co-operated in every way to make it possible to proceed with this extremely important legislation which the people of Canada have been seeking for some time.
The Prime Minister has indicated that it is the hope of the government that this legislation shall become law in time to make it possible to begin these payments by January,
Old Age Pensions
1952. In doing so he has outlined some of the extensive preliminary steps which must be taken to that end. He has indicated the necessity that a period be devoted to registration of those who would be entitled to the universal old age pension to be provided under this new amendment. He has also pointed out that a large number of administrative details must be carefully examined and worked out as between the dominion government and the provincial governments so that this may be done to the satisfaction of the Canadian people generally.
I am not able to agree, however, with the Prime Minister in his statement that it will be just as satisfactory if this bill is dealt with in October. I do not believe that we should leave this house until we have passed the Old Age Pensions Act and made it law. There are very strong reasons why this legislation should be dealt with before we leave this house. The Prime Minister himself suggested a reason why there is a difference between July and October. He pointed out that it was the desire of the dominion government to be ready to make payments in January, 1952, in all those provinces where agreements had already been reached in regard to this measure and the payments under it. I think with that statement all hon. members will be in agreement. But from the very fact that the Prime Minister introduces the qualification that the payment would be made in those provinces where agreements had been reached, it is quite clear that in the mind of the Prime Minister the possibility was contemplated that some of the provinces might not yet have been able to take the necessary preliminary steps to make that practicable and possible.

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