Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, when I indicated to the house on June 4 that the government intended to propose a session of parliament to begin in October, I stated that in the next few weeks the government would have to give consideration to the recommendations of the royal commission on national development in the arts, letters and sciences, and that some legislation arising out of its recommendations would probably be proposed before the end of this year.
After a preliminary examination of the report the government has come to the conclusion that there are two matters on which interim action should be taken at the present session. One of these is broadcasting. It is intended to leave until the session to be held later this year the matter of changes of a permanent character in the legislation, but, as hon. members are aware, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has for some time been faced with the serious problem of attempting to meet rising costs from a relatively fixed income. In order, therefore, to tide the corporation over until appropriate legislative provision can be considered, an interim grant will be proposed in the supplementary estimates shortly to be presented by the Minister of Finance. This grant will be
Arts, Letters and Sciences designed to cover the urgent requirements of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the rest of the present fiscal year.
The government has also reached the conclusion that it is in the national interest to take immediate action to assist the universities to perform functions which are quite essential to the country, and indeed to the proper administration of the government of the country. We are not yet in a position to ask parliament to accept any permanent scheme for this purpose, but we have decided that grants should be made available for the forthcoming academic year along lines recommended by the Massey commission. An item will, accordingly, be included in the supplementary estimates of the Minister of Finance of a sum approximately equal to fifty cents per capita of the present estimated population of the country.
It is intended that this amount should be divided among the provinces in proportion to their population, and that within provinces the division among institutions should, as the commission suggested, be in proportion to their enrolment of students at university level. Parliament will be asked to empower the governor in council to make regulations to ensure these ends and to enable the Minister of Finance to seek the advice and assistance of an advisory committee or committees to be drawn from the national conference of Canadian universities.
In making this announcement I feel I should emphasize that the federal action is intended to provide a necessary supplement to the assistance to universities already made available by the provincial governments, and it is our earnest hope that no provincial authorities will regard this federal contribution as in any way replacing their own obligations to the institutions which they have been supporting in the past.
These federal grants are designed, moreover, primarily to assist the universities to maintain the highly qualified staffs and the working conditions which are essential for the proper performance of their functions-in other words, to maintain quality rather than to increase existing facilities. It is our feeling that if in any province increased facilities involving increased capital outlays are required by the universities, these should be met from the usual sources rather than from federal assistance. The recommendations of the commission with respect to scholarships will be considered and dealt with later.
I might add that in making these recommendations to parliament it is intended to avoid any possible suggestion that we are interfering in any way with the policies
respecting education in the respective provinces. It is for that reason we wish the Minister of Finance to have the power to consult with and get assistance from the conference of Canadian universities for the purpose of drafting regulations that will provide for the allocation of this grant in proportion to the papulation of each province, and within each province in proportion to the number of enrolments of students of university rank in the institutions. I am sure there can be no suggestion that in doing this there will be any interference with the absolute autonomy of the provinces and the provincial institutions in the field of higher education.