We are getting there. In my constituency of York-Humber there are
Old Age Pensions
hundreds of old age pensioners. I know how much they appreciate these improvements. I know they would appreciate receiving $75 a month, too, and I sincerely hope we can raise the old age pension in the not too distant future.
Canadians are responsible people, Mr. Speaker. They know that we cannot take on welfare measures beyond our means. I believe there are approximately 875,000 old age pensioners in Canada today and this number is increasing all the time as longevity increases. The socialists who have been rejected again and again by the Canadian people now pull out of their hat the figure of $75 a month. Why $75 a month? I have here a brief from the national old age pensioners' federation and they suggest $85 a month payable without a means test to all citizens on reaching age 65. Why not $85? Or better still, why not a nice round figure like $100 a month? It is so easy for the socialists to introduce these irresponsible amendments knowing that they will never have to meet the problem of the heavy expenditures involved. The socialists talk about free hospitalization, free medical care, free pensions, free pie in the sky. Of course, it is downright dishonest on their part to make these irrational statements because nothing is free. Somebody has to pay for all these things and it is not governments that pay for them. Governments do not have money and so it is the taxpayers who pay for them.
From the province of Saskatchewan we have heard a lot about free medical care. The government of Saskatchewan certainly has no money to provide free medical care except what they take from the unfortunate taxpayers. It is the duty of responsible governments to try and assess how far Canada can go in its social welfare. I believe that responsible governments must gear social welfare to our economic capacity.
The question has come up today, do we want a system such as the United States has or do we want a combination of our system and of the United States personal contributory system? It took the United States 22 years to build up a fund that pays a minimum of $33 a month. If we scrap our system, how long would it take before we could build up a sound fund that would pay $55 a month? It seems to me that our $55 a month for everyone is much fairer than the United States system. Under our system you cannot get higher pensions nor can you get lower pensions. Theirs is a system whereby the rich get richer, that is higher pensions, and the poor get poorer, or lower pensions, which are based on the amount of the contribution
through the productive years. I think our system under which everybody gets the same is the best one.
Then, the dream of having our system plus the contributory system I think is a good one. I hope in time that we have it, but I am looking into the distant future because it will take many years to build up a sound contributory fund; and looking into the near future I also hope that we can raise the old age pension in a responsible and sound way.