February 13, 1956 (22nd Parliament, 3rd Session)


Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kings-way):

Mr. Speaker, the time remaining for the debate on this motion is not very long and I hope I will not take up all of it. I am really surprised, probably astonished would be a better word, after being among so many university graduates, that the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Philpott) should be in such a hurry to oppose this measure that he had to speak on it before it came before the house at all. It is simply amazing, and I am quite sure it is not what the people of British Columbia expect of the hon. gentleman.
He told us of his experiences during a trip to the Scandinavian countries, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, this year. Surely the ability of those countries to provide for their people should not be compared with that of a rich country like Canada. Finland has not yet finished paying heavy reparations to the country which conquered her a few years ago. It is not so much the size of family allowances paid in those countries as it is the relationship of family allowances to the standards of living of the various classes in the country.
The hon. member says that if something has to be done in connection with social security there is a greater need in connection with old age pensioners. I am not going to dispute that the condition of old age pensioners in Canada, those who have to live practically or altogether on old age security or old age assistance, is deplorable; but I insist that if there is to be a choice between doing something for a child who has not yet developed into a man and doing something for an old person whose days are over, if we cannot do something for both, we should do it first for the child who is a future citizen of Canada.
There is another point I wish to mention in that regard. I am quite sure that the hon. gentleman who preceded me would say

Family Allowances
and has said that this country should do more toward feeding the underprivileged people in other parts of the world. Many people say that if we are going to save the world from the dangers of communism that is something that should be done. But I suggest to you that if we want to feed hungry people we do not have to go outside of of Canada to find them. Our first duty as representatives of the people of Canada is to see that the national income is so distributed that all will have bread before some have bread and cake as well. That is what we are suggesting when we suggest that family allowances should be raised.
I have in my hand a bulletin prepared by the Vancouver housing association, which is a recognized organization in Vancouver coming under the red feather scheme. This bulletin contains a brief which was prepared for the Minister of Public Works in regard to housing. The association had a study made of housing conditions among social assistance families. Those were not old age pensioners; they were fathers and mothers, in most cases mothers, with growing children. The study was made by a man by the name of W. A. Wilson, and I should like to read some extracts from the study he made which appear in this brief. The first is as follows:
A family dependent on assistance has only about a 50-50 chance of finding shelter which will not jeopardize its physical and emotional well-being.
What does that mean? It means that in Vancouver, the city which the hon. gentleman and myself represent, families with children on social assistance are forced to give up proper food and clothing and other things that the ordinary child should expect in order to be able to obtain adequate shelter. Family allowances are one way of adding to the income of those children. The next extract is as follows:
It is a decidedly bleak outlook for the family attempting to find adequate shelter within the rental grant. A family without outside help is literally torn between two choices; paying an exorbitant proportion of their income in attempting to find satisfactory housing, or living in poor housing and having more of their income available for daily necessities.
We talk about juvenile delinquency, but what can be expected of children who are brought up hungry, who are brought up in homes that we would not want to live in? If we are going to combat juvenile delinquency successfully we must begin by improving the lives of young people in the community, not only with better food and clothing but with more of the social amenities and educational and recreational opportunities. Here again increased family allowances would help a great deal.
[Mr. Maclnnis.l
I have before me an article which appeared in the Montreal Gazette of February 6 which
was written for several papers by James S. Duncan, C.M.G., describing his experiences on a recent visit to Russia. Referring to the condition of the Russian people he says:
The small luxuries, the Important non-essentials, the minor niceties which lend grace and charm to life are conspicuous by their absence from the Russian scene; and yet the great masses of the people who have no points of comparison with the way other peoples live, apparently accept their drab lives without complaint or unhappiness.
I read all of it because there was no period. I could have read the first half and left it at that, pointing out that Russia is not the only country where the small luxuries, the important non-essentials and the minor niceties which lend grace and charm to life are conspicuous by their absence. I can take my hon. friend to hundreds of homes in the city of Vancouver where these minor niceties which lend grace and charm to life are lacking and where there is a continual daily struggle to provide the essentials of bare living.
Yet my hon. friend says in this house that we cannot afford this. How quickly people become satisfied. Let us first look after the many people in every city, in every town, in every hamlet in this land who are not getting enough food to eat, who are not getting proper clothes to wear, who are not getting the proper educational opportunities. Let us look after these people first, even before we extend our bounty to the more unfortunate people in other parts of the world.
My hon. friend, as I have said, is now one of the satisfied people. He is continually drawing attention to what this government is doing. I remember the day when he did not think this government was doing so much. I have here a quotation from a speech made by someone:
Both parties are absolutely in the grip of financial interests. The real government of Canada is not at Ottawa but in St. James street, and the old parties are as closely linked as the Siamese twins.

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