Manitoba Hansard

Volume I No. 3b - 8:00 p.m., Monday, October 27, 1958

Page Index


Table of Contents


8:00 o'clock, Monday, October 27th, 1958

MR. SPEAKER: Adjourned debate on the proposed motion of Mr. Alexander for an Address to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor in answer to his Speech at the Opening of the Session and the proposed motion of the Honourable the First Minister in amendment thereto....

MR. D. L. CAMPBELL (Leader of the Opposition) (Lakeside): Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: follows: That the Motion be amended by adding at the end, thereof, the following words: that we regret that with regard to agriculture, Manitoba's basic industry, the Speech from the Throne refers to one matter only, but ignores the many other immediate and serious problems facing the farmers of our Province. The Honourable the Leader of the C.C.F.

MR. L. STINSON (Leader of the C.C.F.) (Osborne): Mr. Speaker, at the outset I wish to offer the traditional congratulations to you, Sir, upon your election to the high office of Speaker of this Assembly. We have elected you because we believe in your integrity and in your fair-mindedness, and we trust that you will be Speaker of this House for many years to come. I have in mind, Sir, the idea of the permanent Speaker. I wish also to congratulate the Mover and Seconder of the Address and Reply. The Mover is a young man and a new member and he made an excellent impression. The Seconder is well known to us and it was good, once again, to hear his oratory. I wish, also, to congratulate the Honourable the First Minister on two counts...first of all on assuming the Premiership of the Province and secondly, upon acquiring a charming wife. I congratulate him upon his good judgment and his good luck. I wish also to congratulate the Honourable the Leader of the Opposition upon his long term of service in this House. He must have established some sort of record by now because he was elected in 1922 and now this is 1958, so he is the senior member of this House by a good deal.

I may say that, although we have had our political differences, that we have mutual respect, I hope, I certainly respect him, and I hope that we may continue to be personal friends.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have 27 new members in this House and I can't speak of them all individually, but I do wish to draw attention to the fact that one of the new members has established a record because he is only 22 years of age. I refer to the Honourable Member for Brokenhead who will not be 23 until the month of December of this year. I have one word of advice to offer this freshman class of '58, and that is this, try to combine public condemnation with private generosity. We may have harsh words spoken in this Chamber but I trust that all of us will be friends out in the corridor.

I might also pass on a little bit of advice to the newcomers


with respect to the Press. You know they are pretty important people around here and one must attempt to maintain friendly relations with the Press, but let me offer one word of warning - "never discuss anything with a reporter except the weather, even that could prove to be a dangerous topic."

It may surprise you, Sir, to learn that there are only two of us from the freshman group of 1945 -- the Honourable Member for Assiniboia who is unavoidably absent tonight, and myself. There are seven members senior to us. Five honourable members who sit to my right -- you, yourself, Mr. Speaker, and the Honourable the Minister of Agriculture, so the casualty rate here is pretty high.

At the last sitting we heard from the Honourable the Leader of the Opposition. It was a sad tale -- full of lamentation, if not of recrimination. We might give it a title, "Campbell's Lament". Full of grief and regret. Just as an aside, I would like to ask, "Why do the Liberals in this House always quote eminent Conservatives?" For example, the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen and Sir Winston Churchill -- but all they need to do is quote some of the resounding phrases of the late R. B. Bennett and it would be complete. Didn't Lloyd George or Sir Wilfred Laurier ever say anything worth quoting?

Now the Leader of the Opposition fought the election all over again. He said that the Liberals lost the election because he was a poor publicist, to use his own terms. Well, Sir, that was not the reason at all. He is quite experienced at stating a case and I think did a good job of leading his Party. It was a difficult assignment. The real reason for the defeat of the Campbell government was that it did not lead. Whenever anything progressive was done, it was done under pressure. It was always lagging behind public opinion, and whenever a step forward was taken, it was taken reluctantly. The former Government had one solid achievement to its credit -- that was rural electrification. But you can't trade forever on one accomplishment. They won one or two elections upon that issue but it got stale -- people got accustomed to having electricity. Some credit must be given as well for re-distribution by Commission, but this came about largely because of pressure. The Conservatives were both elated and disappointed by the results of the election. Elated because after wandering in the wilderness for more than 40 years they emerged from that sojourn and that tribulation and became the largest group in this House. They were disappointed because they failed to hold the vote that John Diefenbaker gained for the Conservative Party in the March 31st Election. Their vote slipped from 212,000 in this province to 117,000. It went down from 57% to 41%. As for the C.C.F., we went up from 5 seats to 11, and we are not complaining.

The new Leader of the Opposition has moved a "Want of Confidence" amendment in the new government. It is a phony amendment designed solely for partisan advantage. It was no doubt thought by them at the time to be a clever manoeuvre. They would kill more than one bird with this stone. It would appeal to Manitoba's hard-pressed farmers and it would embarrass both the Government and the C.C.F. But it really isn't a clever manoeuvre at all.


It is a narrow, confined sort of thing that will not fool the farmers or anyone else. Surely Tom Kent can do better than this.

First of all, Sir, look at the faulty reasoning behind this amendment. My Honourable Friend, the Leader of the Opposition, said that the main problems facing the farmers are Federal in character. That is quite true. Matters of trade and tariffs are under federal jurisdiction. The plight of the farmer due to the price-cost squeeze must be placed on the door-step of the Federal authorities. The Mover of the amendment knew this and asserted it to be the truth in his speech, but then he went on to move "Want of Confidence" on this one point alone. So now we find the Liberals chiding the Tories for failing to do the things that they have always claimed were a Federal responsibility. What did the .........? I wish to ask this question now, Sir - what did the Campbell government ever do for the farmers anyway? They always claimed to be a farmers' party, but the nearest they ever came to helping the farmer was to form a committee in 1957, that committee drafted some recommendations urging the Federal Government to take some action to aleviate the depression among the farm people. Then that report sat on the desk of the then Minister of Agriculture from March until after the June Election of that year. He didn't want to bother Jimmy Gardiner with this report during the course of the election campaign. Then afterwards Jimmy wasn't there to be bothered. And so he had to send it to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

And what did the Tories at Ottawa do with it? Well, that is another sad tale. The Want of Confidence, Sir, should be moved at Ottawa.

In the circumstances, a vote for this amendment would mean that we favour putting the Campbell government back into office. This we cannot possibly consider. The Roblin governments may turn out to be bad enough. We know how bad the Liberals can be.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals were beaten in this province just four months ago. They were in office for a long time under one name or another. During the course of the election campaign, there was a debate as to whether it was ten years or thirty-six or forty-two. If you begin with the name, Bracken, then it would be thirty-six and then it would continue down through the regime of Garson and to be followed later by my honourable friend who is now the Leader of the Opposition. But even if you take only the period of the last Premier, it's a period of ten years and they had plenty of time to carry out these ideas during that period. They have had their chance, now they are out. They have passed from the scene of action in Manitoba. They have passed from the center of the stage although they don't seem to realize that fact yet. They haven't found out about it yet. They're dead but they won't lie down. The Liberals thought they were invincible. They thought they ruled by Divine Right and would go on forever. Well, Sir, they were clobbered in the last election, and now they are a splinter group representing only one segment of the population and not representing it very well.

We believe, Sir, that it is our job in this group to promote our own program which is gaining popular favour. We were elected on a certain platform and that is what we are here to fight for.


We have done this time and again in this House. The two old parties have paid tribute to our program by stealing many of it's plans. But there are still plenty for us to discuss. We were elected on a certain program and that is the job that we have to do.

And so it is my intention to move a sub-amendment which will contain some of the proposals which we deem of urgent importance.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, we believe that this province should enact farm security legislation. If the farm prices continues, and there would seem to be no abatement of it, this kind of protection will be badly needed. For some years now, the farmer has suffered from uncertain income on the one hand and fixed obligations on the other. Some of these fixed obligations are harsh and difficult for the farmer. There are harsh mortgage contracts which call for payments to be made regardless of crop and market conditions and the farmers' ability to pay. Being aware of this situation, we have put forward more than once proposals calling for farm security legislation. These proposals have been voted down by both of the old parties.

All that Manitoba has along this line is the outdated Debt Adjustment Act of 1932 which is inadequate and vague. It makes no provision for security for the farmer in case of crop failure; it provides no guarantee that the farmer cannot be deprived of his home quarter; and it provides no machinery for effective mediation of disputes. The C.C.F. believes that the farmer should have protection of this kind.

Secondly, we think this government should urge upon the Federal Government the need for adequate legislation to provide the farmer with a fair share of the national income. This point, Sir, is entirely a Federal responsibility but there is an onus on this House and upon this government to press for parity prices and to do all that is within our power to see that the farmer gets a square deal. Other members of our group will develop this point later.

Then, Sir, I do believe that we need better labour legislation. Labour legislation in Manitoba is a disgrace. We fall behind most of the other provinces in providing security fo the working man. Now what are these aspects that need attention?

One is quite clearly wages. Winnipeg is the fourth largest city of Canada but in terms of wages paid to employees, we are twentieth on the list. The present Manitoba's minimum wage is 60 cents per hour for men and 58 cents per hour for women. Noboby can live decently on wages of this kind. We believe that the minimum wage should be at least a dollar an hour.

Manitoba's Vacations with Pay Act lags behind. Almost all civilized countries now provide for two weeks holiday with pay after one year, but not the Province of Manitoba. It always astonished me that the former government refused to make this small concession because, after all, it is something that is very common across the civilized world. We have presented bills and resolutions on this point year after year, to have them voted down by the government and usually, as well, by the former opposition.

Our Workmen's Compensation legislation is deficient as well.


Provision for compensation to dependents, for example, is lower than in the neighbouring provinces. Payments to widows and children in case of death of a workman, are lower in Manitoba than anywhere west of Quebec.

These are only some of the labour issues on which Manitoba lags behind. There are many others about which we could speak.

Now, Sir, I wish to turn to a matter that we consider to be of urgent importance, and that is the question of the distribution of natural gas. It would appear from press reports that the new government is not going to require the Winnipeg and Central Gas Company to guarantee in writing its rates or the extent of its service over the next five years. This is surprising, to say the least, in view of the recommendations of the commission.

I would draw attention, first of all, to what the commission said on page 65: "Commission recommends further that if substantial evidence of intent is submitted within the period specified, the company or companies should be allowed a further period ending not later than December 31, 1958 to complete arrangements and to give to the Government of Manitoba satisfactory undertakings to meet the conditions specified above". Look at the key words of that statement. First of all, the words "substantial evidence of intent" and then the words "satisfactory undertakings" - I would think that written guarantees from the company would be necessary.

Now I am not going to bore the House with telling the story of the gas muddle, or of giving you the statistics in connection with rates and all of the material in the report, except to say this, that the company is now agreed to meet the requirements of the report in selling gas at 90 cents per thousand cubic feet. And yet, their spokesmen, appearing before the commission on July the 15th, said this - you will find it on page 24 - "The company is continually running studies on this thing. $1.01 or $1.02 is a mathematical thing backed up by figures. They have run studies on rates varying higher and lower. They have gone down as low as 90 cents. They found the company cannot live on 90 cents. It can't finance and, if it can't finance, it can't expand. And if it can't expand, the customers can't get service." Well, that was a considered statement of policy by the Winnipeg and Central Gas Company and yet now we find that they are prepared to meet the ultimatum of the commission and sell gas in greater Winnipeg at the figure of 90 cents. Why have they done this? I think the answer is obvious. This company wants, first of all, to gain a strangle hold on the gas business and then later it will want higher rates. Anyone familiar with the tactics of the old Winnipeg Electric Company will naturally be somewhat suspicious of the antics of this offspring company.

The House, Sir, should be reminded that two other companies were prepared to sell gas at a lower rate than 90 cents. The House, perhaps, should be reminded that in the Province of Saskatchewan under the Saskatchewan Power Corporation, where the distribution of gas is publicly owned, the average rate is about 70 cents. Brandon and Portage have more favourable rates than Winnipeg. Why should Winnipeg users pay more?


The most surpising thing about the report of the commission was that they were prepared to give the Winnipeg and Central a second chance. They were prepared to reward this company for making a mess of the whole gas business. They were prepared to allow this company the unprecedented opportunity of establishing a monopoly in the distribution of natural gas. And we believe, Sir, that a monopoly of this kind should be publicly owned. That when we have a resource of this kind, when we have a utility of this kind, it should be on the basis of public ownership and not be allowed to remain in private hands. The advantages of public ownership, particularly in the field of financing such an enterprise, are obvious and so, Sir, we in this Party stand firmly by the principle of public ownership.

Now, I want to go on to say something about hospitalization. Throughout the years, the C.C.F. has vigorously championed the fight for a national scheme of health insurance. As in all areas of welfare, Liberals and Conservatives are compelled to accept our ideas but they accept them reluctantly. Now we have another idea - that our hospital plan should be changed to bring it more in line with the principle of ability to pay. Even the Federal Government in its legislation recognizes this principle. They recognize the principle of participation with regard for ability to pay. Half of the national hospitalization plan, some $12,000,000.00, will be financed on this basis.

The Manitoba Government has insisted that equal individual payments be made on a premium basis. We say that this is unfair. It means that a man earning $50,000.00 a year pays exactly the same amount as the man earning $3,000.00 a year for the same coverage. We say that all risks should be pooled. It is the simple but profound principle that the strong should help the weak.

In many instances, the Manitoba Hospital Services Plan is grossly unfair. Take for example the case of a farmer and his wife with three children at home more than 19 years of age. This is a family unit. They are operating the farm and the three young people are there with their parents. That farmer must pay a total of $123.00 for hospital coverage. Or take the example of a man and wife with two children at university, the children being over 19 and dependent upon the parents, in that case, the total cost would be $98.40, almost $100.00 a year for hospitalization. The premiums are outrageously high, including the regular amount of $24.60 for single persons, $49.20 for man and wife.

Therefore, we propose a new method of hospital insurance - an annual registration fee with a nominal charge. We have suggested an annual registration fee of $5.00 for a single person and $10.00 for families, that is to say, we advocate the abolition of premiums. It is because of our regard for the family and as we have said, because of our belief that all people have the right to the greatest possible measure of security and happiness, that we make this far-reaching proposal.

Of course, the question arises, where is the money to come from? This question used to be tossed around this Chamber a great deal more than in recent years. But I suppose that in


this instance that the question will be asked. Under the present government's plan the provincial share of the costs will be between eleven and twelve dollars. The Liberal-Conservative plan is designed to raise almost all of that in premiums, regardless of the ability to pay. Our no-premium hospitalization would raise about two and a half million dollars through the registration fee, which, of course, means that there would be approximately nine million dollars left to be raised from other sources. I suggest that the corporations exploiting our natural resources should supply a major portion of the money required. At present the Province is collecting only about two percent of the total wealth received from our mines, forests and from our oil resources. In Saskatchewan, the Government collects about twelve percent. It is strikingly evident that we have not begun to extract a fair share of revenue. Moreover, one must remember the promises of Prime Minister Diefenbaker, which included a better deal for the Province. We must put pressure upon the Prime Minister to fulfill his pledges. We would receive something like nineteen million dollars if the proposed 15-15-50 formula were adopted.

I have attempted tonight, Sir, to present part of our program for the people of Manitoba. We feel under obligation to put forward our ideas and our plans at every opportunity, and we regard this as a suitable time, and a suitable place to speak of these things. We are certain that once the people of Manitoba become fairly familiar with this program, they will give overwhelming support to the C.C.F. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I wish to move, by way of amendment, seconded by the Honourable Member for Inkster, that all the words after the word "regret", in the first line thereof, be deleted and the following substituted therefor: Failure of the Government; (1) to introduce farm security legislation; (2) to press the Federal Government for an adequate system of price support for agricultural products based on a fair cost-price relationship; (3) to propose better labour legislation, particularly with respect to higher minimum wages, vacations with pay, shorter hours of work, and improved workmen's compensation; to inaugurate the public ownership of the distribution of Natural Gas; to carry forward the principle of socialized medicine, and particularly the failure to propose changes in the Manitoba Hospital Services Plan, with a view to adopting a nominal annual registration fee in place of the present schedule of premiums, thereby establishing a scheme of hospitalization more in line with the principle of ability to pay; and (6) its failure to secure greater revenue for the Province from corporations exploiting our natural resources.

[Mr. Speaker read the motion. ]

MR. CAMPBELL: Have you had time to consider whether the amendment is in order? I raise the point of order simply because I understand that it's necessary for the amendment to the amendment to amend the amendment that has already been offered. I think perhaps you'd want to consider that point of order.


MR. SPEAKER: I would advise the Leader of the Opposition that it is in accordance with the practices that have been followed in this House for many years.

MR. W. C. MILLER (Rhineland): Mr. Speaker, on that very point of order, I have before me, citation 207 Boucheyne, Fourth Edition, 207. The sub-amendment on the address in reply to the Speech From the Throne "may be moved subject to the same rules as any amendment. It must be relevant to the amendment and cannot raise a new issue," and then they go on, "great latitude is allowed in this debate." Now, I think Mr. Speaker, with all due deference, that you must rule whether or not this sub-amendment raises a new issue. It must be relevant to the amendment and cannot raise a new issue. May I suggest with deference, Mr. Speaker, that you take this point of order under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: I can't quote our exact rules without a little time to hunt them up, but I did look at our rules and an amendment to the Throne Speech you can bring a new question into your motion to amendment and sub-amendment. And my ruling on the matter is that the amendment to the amendment is in order. Proposed resolution, the Honourable Member for Fisher.

MR. STINSON: Whereas here on the point of order, did someone adjourn the debate?

HONOURABLE DUFF ROBLIN (Premier): The Member for Radisson intended to adjourn it. He stood to his feet, but I don't know whether he caught the Speaker's eye.

MR. R. PAULLEY (Radisson): If nobody else, Mr. Speaker, desires to speak on the amendment to the amendment, I move, seconded by the Honourable Member for Fisher, that the debate be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry that I didn't .......

[Mr. Speaker read the motion, and after a voice vote declared the motion carried. ]

MR. SPEAKER: Proposed resolution - the Honourable Member for Fisher. Whereas the Agricultural Stabilization Act of 1958 does not assure agricultural producers a fair price based on the cost of production, this is borne out by the fact that the present hog price is set at 16 percent below the last ten-year average market price, and whereas the western farmer are deliberately discriminating against the terms of the said Act, by exclusion.

It has been moved by the Honourable Member for Radisson ... beg pardon ...

MR. STINSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman wishes to have the order stand.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh! I thought he was adjourning the debate.


Am I clear now?

MR. ROBLIN: Mr. Speaker, I fully expected the honourable member to continue with his resolution. I understand that he does not wish to continue with it now. Nobody gave him a chance to stand up and say that he wants to have it stand. ... Fine. Stand.

MR. SPEAKER: That is the resolution of the proposed by the Honourable Member for Fisher?

MR. P. WAGNER (Fisher): Mr. Speaker, if I may have the indulgence of this House, that resolution may stand.

MR. SPEAKER: Stand. Agreed.

The proposed resolution by the Honourable Member for Inkster. Resolved that in the opinion of this House...

MR. M. A. GRAY (Inkster): I beg leave to move, seconded by the Honourable Member for Fisher, the following resolution: Resolved that in the opinion of this House the Government should give consideration to the advisability of supplementing the income of the old age and blind pensioners and persons in receipt of the old age assistance, whose total income are not in excess of fifty-five dollars a month. And be it further resolved that in the opinion of this House, the Government should give consideration to the advisability of providing medical, surgical, dental, and optical care for all old age pensioners in need of such assistance. And be it further resolved that in the opinion of this House the Government should give consideration to the advisability of making provisions for increased aid for housing projects for old age pensioners and the establishment of provincial nursing homes for the aged.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by the Honourable the Member for Inkster, and I didn't catch the Seconder.

MR. GRAY: Seconded by the Honourable Member for Fisher.

[Mr. Speaker read the motion. ]

MR. GRAY: Mr. Speaker, I intend to be very brief since I am not in the best of health tonight, and secondly, I think that this subject has been discussed in this House for quite a long time. I have no apology for bringing this matter up again for the eighteenth time for the eighteenth session that I have the honour to be a Member of this House. Because I am convinced from experience in dealing with some of the old age pensioners, and from what I have been informed, the situation of a number of them is extremely tragic. I don't say and I don't claim that I am the only one in this House who has the interest of the old aged. I'm just one of many and I hope that this time, probably, I will be one of all the 56 members.

As you no doubt are aware there are two departments in the


Province which deal with old age pensioners. One is the Manitoba Pension Board, who are now dealing with those people from 65 to 69 years of age, inclusive, subject to the Means Test. And may I just spend a minute to illustrate to some of the members who may not know, what the Means Test means. It means what it says. Anyone applying for a pension between 65 and 69 inclusive, must make an application which consists of about 50 questions and must prove without a doubt, by an affidavit, that he has no means to exist and they are placed on a method of investigation that the applicant is definitely unable to provide for himself, subject to starvation, otherwise he will be on the pension. He is being checked periodically. Every year, at least, he has to make an affidavit again that there is no change in the situation, and have no other help whatsoever. There are seven thousand of those now on the old age assistance department, supervised and administered by the Provincial Government.

Then they have the Old Age Security Department, dealing with old age pensioners of 70 and over, without a means test. In other words, anyone who can prove that he is 70 years of age, and is a citizen of Canada, can get his monthly pension of fifty-five dollars. First, we don't know how many of those of 70 and over are actually in need of the pension. That the very fact they don't have to go through a means test, justifies the granting, even to those who are not in need, lessens the amount of the pension. At the present, the old age security they have on the list fifty-two thousand pensioners in the Province of 70 and over and are receiving old age pension, plus the seven thousand registered under the old age assistance.

In other words, a total of fifty-nine thousand are receiving old age pension in the Province of Manitoba, to date.

Now, the resolution asks for assistance to those whose total income are not excess of fifty-five dollars a month. But how can we determine, approximately, the number of old age pensioners who may not have any income above the fifty-five dollars a month? In 1952, Mr. Speaker, the Old Age Assistance Department transferred to the Old Age Security Department, the responsibility of the Federal Government, eighteen thousand pensioners of 70 years and over. Since 1952, they have transferred about twelve hundred a year, making a total exceeding twenty-five thousand. In other words, my guess is that at least twenty-five thousand old age pensioners in the Province, who are not receiving, or very little, additional to the fifty-five dollars a month. There still remain about, deducting about ten thousand who have since died. The death rate is about 250 a month, whether to lack of assistance or through other reasons, I do not know. But the average death rate is 250 a month. So, if you deduct these, there still remain, at least, fifteen thousand adults who were originally under the means test. In other words, with the exception of a few, the files still indicate that these pensioners have never received any help from anyone, although they may be permitted to earn a few dollars even when there is work available.

There is also a large number of old age pensioners who have tried to get along, manage one way or the other, until they are 70 years of age, because they did not want to undergo the tortures,


so to speak, of going through a Means Test. In their years, they were respectable citizens, they had their own families, and they did not feel like coming to the Old Age Pension Board and ask for a handout, which they called it, until they were absolutely forced to do it. In my opinion, there are already fifteen thousand, fifteen thousand at least, who have no added income.

Now, single men and women of fifty-five dollars a month, will have to spend the fifty-five dollars just for rent and meals. And speaking to many, and by observations, the following is the average menu, at least for the single men who have to go to the restaurant to eat, as they have no facilities to do their own cooking in the unsanitary rooms they occupy, because they cannot get anything else for twenty or twenty-two dollars a month. I know many, I know their names, if the department wishes to have them. They go to the restaurant in the morning. They get a bowl of porridge and coffee, for which they pay 25¢. At noon, they get soup, a piece of bread and coffee - 25¢. In the evening they have fish or meat, not steaks, not cavier, and not of the best quality - 60¢, a total of $1.10 a day, or $33.00 a month, figuring at 30 days a month. The average rent for a single person without too many conveniences, is twenty-two dollars per month, making a total of fifty-five dollars, and they only keep their body and soul together on this allowance. Now, they require even small personal necessities, a toothbrush; a comb; a pair of stockings; perhaps an underwear; a little tobacco. Where are they going to get it? Some are not getting it. They probably go down to the Municipality and ask for it, but I have already mentioned that these people are dignified men and women. They have their own lives, respectable lives in the past, and they don't feel like doing it. And then the question of clothing and the question of hospitalization, medicine, optical and so on.

Their span of life, when they reach the age of 70, even 65, is not very long. It is the duty of the community to help them in a more dignified way. I realize the general situation of the old age pension problem in Canada is being discussed, and considered, but ... to give them something today - not tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late for those only who have no other income. Some honourable members have mentioned in the past that it is the duty of the children to help. I agree. But don't forget, in the first place, the children are helping them. The average man of 60 years of age is now being thrown out of the labour market. They cannot find jobs. They are replaced by younger men, probably at the same wage. An industry is business-like. If they could get from a man more work, about 25 or 30, they won't hesitate to fire a man of 60. Then, on the other hand, and then they have to give them until they are 65, four or five years, and chances are that helping them out later on a little. But they must realize one thing, that the children have their own lives to live. They are married. They may not have any surplus to give their parents. And then, from my experience, I am told by many of the children, that there is another problem. This is domestic relationship. It may be that he has to help his wife's father or mother. He doesn't feel like doing it. He says he married her, not her father or mother. Or the


same thing would be on the other side. So we cannot expect from the children to give them help and the children do help. Otherwise probably the role of the old age pensioners would be very, very much greater than it is to date.

After all, why should not the state help? These pensioners, Mr. Speaker, are men, who in years gone by, have worked in very low wages, and I am a witness to it. I worked in the early days of fifteen, seventeen and a half cents an hour, twenty-five cents an hour was a maximum wage. And even in 1934, the Government of Manitoba declared only a twenty-five cents minimum wage during the depression years. In other words, anybody can get work, but they cannot receive less than twenty-five cents. And they even had a stamp of approval at that time for the twenty-five cents an hour wages. Well, how could they save? How would they save up for their old age? They couldn't do it. But these are the men who have built this very same building that we are in. These are the men that built our railroads. These are the men who lost their lives going through the mountains and building a railway for our own convenience. These are the men who have built our sanitary accommodations. These are the men who built the roads, sidewalks, to make our lives happy, to make our lives easier. Aren't we responsible to that? Couldn't we give them something - a little bit - towards their last few years of their lives in this so-called "golden age" period? Why couldn't we do it? We have millions of dollars for everything else. Fifty million dollars is being spent on liquor a year in this Province. Couldn't they find any money for these poor old age pensioners? I'm not suggesting to give anyone who is not entitled to it, but those who have no other income. That's my plea to this House.

I know this will be a temporary aid only, but a temporary aid means a lot. Helping out a sick person at at time in need may save his life. And I'm not concerned whether it's fifteen thousand or ten thousand or even one. Our Bible says that saving of one man's life is the same as saving a nation. I do appeal to this House to approve this resolution and show the old age pensioners that the elected body of this legislature are thinking of them and are praying for them, and hoping that the last few years of their lives will be a little bit easier so when they receive the Heavenly summons they could go with a smile instead of pestering the community in which they live.

HONOURABLE GEORGE JOHNSON, M.D. (Minister of Health and Public Welfare): I wish to speak to the resolution proposed by the Honourable Member for Inkster. If it were not that my colleagues have informed me that the honourable member had proposed this same resolution previously, I would think he had been using our campaign literature. I wish to congratulate him on his persistance in zeal. In opposition, our party supported this resolution in principle, and still intend to do so. We do not promise that the Government will carry out the details -- all the details of this resolution, but our most serious consideration has been given and is being given to all the items mentioned. During our campaign we talked about these proposals and on assuming office, we immediately began to study all the proposals


mentioned in the resolution. We received scores of letters from interested groups and various agencies. We also received a delegation -- one delegation representing the Old Age Pensioners Association of the Province, and other pensioner groups. They were all urging that some action be taken. Our knowledge of the problem, generally, and our correspondence and our visits to other Provinces, re-affirmed our conviction that prompt action was required, with priorities to those matters which we realized were most pressing.

In order to consolidate our knowledge and facts, we have arranged for two conferences in November. On November 7th, we intend to -- have invited the following groups to participate in a conference -- we're mainly thinking of a home-care type of programs -- are: Co-ordinator of Rehabilitation Services, representatives of the Multiple Sclerosis Society; Merry Minders; Arthritis and Rheumatism Society; Victorian Order of Nurses; City of Winnipeg Health and Welfare Departments; Hospital Groups; Age and Opportunity Bureau. We feel that there is a real part that these agencies can play with us in helping these people and also we have another Conference slated for November 10th. We are inviting all those interested in housing and hospital accommodation for the aged. We have representatives here -- have now been invited from the Sanitorium Board, the Medical Association, the Hospital Council, the Age and Opportunity Bureau, the Continuing Committee of Manitoba Conference on Aging, the Welfare Council of Greater Winnipeg, the St. James Kiwanis Club, the United Church responsible for this St. Andrew's project, Middlechurch Home, the City of Winnipeg Health and Welfare Department.

Now, all these people have written us and we had voluminous literature and requests. We want the assistance of these groups in helping us in the most efficient and expedient method of dealing with the acute problems involved in furthering the health and welfare of our senior citizens. This field has interested me personally for years as I helped in the development of a model home for the aged in that bastion of democracy, Gimli. The great benefits which came to these people as their housing and living conditions improved was a revelation to me and the feeling which they seemed to get when they realized the younger generation really did care.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure he Honourable member for Inkster that this Government will explore every avenue with expediency in order to make available a better way of life for our senior citizens in need. I might add we have a large Committee working on a scheme to provide more suitable facilities for the more infirm of our senior citizens. As you know, the average age at which these people are coming into hospital and housing accommodation has risen tremendously and in some homes, the average age at which they come into institutions is 86 years. We are about, also Sir, to appoint a Supervisor of Housing in order to assist us in selling this to the public. We're going to go out and show them what can be done. We have gone so far as to serve notice on our Provincial Treasurer as to the amount of money required and this Treasurer is lending us a willing ear - not like our predecessors, I understand.


We know the people of this Province will appreciate action on the part of the Government. We are studying our priorities in this field and I can assure the honourable member that this Government is a Government of action. Our most sympathetic consideration will be given to all the items mentioned in the resolution and the appropriate legislation will be presented to this legislature in due course. For this -- for these reasons, our Government intends to support the honourable member's motion. I have, Mr. Speaker, I know of the honourable member's interest in this problem from my colleagues and how he has presented it for years, but this is part of our program. We're going to do it -- we have started to do it now as I have indicated. Thank you.

MR. STINSON: Mr. Speaker, I didn't intend to speak a second time tonight, but this is a momentous occasion -- and I hope that it will not turn out to be a disappointment, but it certainly is the first time that my honourable friend has had this measure of success. He has had some small measure of success in the past in this matter and I have risen to pay him a tribute rather than to do anything else. He is the senior member of our group. This is the 18th time that he has presented a resolution of this kind to the Manitoba Legislature. The Honourable the Minister of Health and Public Welfare has said that the Government is prepared to accept this resolution. We are, indeed, glad to hear that. He said that perhaps not every detail will be accepted. I hope that they, upon serious consideration, will accept every part of it. There are some pretty important parts to this resolution. For example, supplementing the income of the Old Age and Blind Pensioners who are in need; providing medical, surgical, dental and optical care for all old age pensioners in need of such assistance.

Last year, my honourable friend had the word "hospital" there as well, but in view of the new hospital plan, we thought that perhaps that was not necessary, although I understand that there are some problems in connection with that. There are a number of pensioners in doubt about what their status is. Then, of course, the matter of housing projects for the aged is something that deserves very high priority, indeed, and if I may be permitted to mention my favourite province, I think that the Minister would do well to take a trip to Saskatchewan and go throughout that Province and find what has been done because they have there a most magnificent program in the field of housing - particularly nursing homes. So that this, Sir, is a Red Letter Day for the Honourable Member for Inkster. For years we referred to him as the Honourable Member for Winnipeg North, Mr. Gray, and it is difficult to become accustomed to the new term. He now is the Member for Inkster and we wish to pay him a tribute for his persistence, for his long service in this House and for the work that he has done, not only for the pensioners but for the people of his constituency, of his City and of the Province of Manitoba as a whole.

MR. CAMPBELL: Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend who has


just taken his seat has said that this is a Red Letter Day and I certainly join with him and with the Minister of Health and Public Welfare in paying tribute to the persistence and certainly I am sure, sincere persistence of the Honourable Member for Inkster in this regard. I wouldn't want, however, this occasion to pass without mentioning the fact that when we had the privilege of occupying the Treasury Benches of this Legislative Assembly that we had our reasons for taking the stand that we have taken. I think that there is a tendency when our Honourable Friend from Inkster moves this motion with the great sincerity and feeling that he does for a great many people to have their emotions considerably aroused by the picture that he draws of these pensioners and I think that should not becloud the issue that lies before us.

First, I know of no one on the side of the House over there under the last Government that ever argued that the amount paid was enough in all cases -- even though attempts may have been made to prove us extremely hard-hearted persons and extremely parsimonious, the fact is that we were always among the very first to admit that the pension itself was not sufficient. How many times have my colleagues and I said that -- particularly we have said if only one of the couple was on the pension and the other wasn't, or if illness obtained in one or both, or if expensive medicines had to be provided or something of this kind. There is no difference of opinion on that point in this House and I must say that we never asked the question that my Honourable Friend, the Leader of the C.C.F. Party, used tonight, saying that we often heard in here years ago about where's the money coming from. My honourable friend never heard that question from us, never. What we said all the time was.... All right, look it up! ... We can find.... Pardon? ... We can find many occasions - if they said it, it was the rhetorical question in order to just give the reply - we can find many occasions where we were accused by my honourable friends on that side and that side of saying it that way. What we always said was not "Where's the money coming from", we always tried to remind the tax payers, remind the people here that somebody had to pay and that's the point that where a great many of people - particularly my friends, or I should say, traditionally my friends in this Party, and only recently my friends in that Party have been inclined to forget that these things all come back on the tax payers - there is no such thing as a free service and that's the thing we were trying to point out. It wasn't where the money came from. Everybody knows where it comes from if they would only stop to think - it comes right out of the pockets of the tax payers, but we never said it shouldn't come from. We always admitted it should come when there was a need. The whole question so far as we were concerned, and I see my honourable friends shaking their heads and smiling -- I challenge them to prove that wrong -- that is what we said -- that's what we say still and that's a fact, there was no question about the need, there was no question that the need shouldn't be supplied. The whole question was where should the responsibility lie? On the Provincial Government or on the Municipal authority and that is still the question and our sub-


mission was just as sincerely as my honourable friend because with all his great interest in this subject, he hasn't the monopoly interest in it - other people have been interested, too. ... No, I know, I know, my honourable friend hasn't even intimated that. ... All the rest of us were interested in this question, but we were interested in getting it done the best way and I appreciate the statement that the Honourable Minister has made tonight, I appreciate the fact that he is inclined to get things done. I am sure he is going to tackle this with his customary zeal and efficiency but I still say that when you look at the business administration of this and somebody, somebody should raise the question of the tax payer's position, because they're the people that have to pay it and when you get to the question of who can do it best, I still say to you that it's the municipal people. They know, they know the situation and one of the things that prejudices and endangers a lot of these welfare programs today is the fact of people being ready to try to get on to them when they don't deserve to and the people that can keep the situation in hand so as to see that the ones who really do need it, get it, and not prejudice the plan by having people get it who don't need it, are the municipal people, and that's the position we have taken all the way through and I still say it was the right position, but after all, the Honourable Minister has said, and he speaks for the Government, that this is what they are prepared to do.

I, too, congratulate him on being willing to deal with it so quickly, and if the Government is prepared to do it, I state the position that we have taken through the years, but we are certainly not going to make an issue of it now. If my honourable friends are willing to assume this, they are willing to assume this obligation, then there is no reason why we should protest against it. I am simply putting on record the fact, and I put it as we have done many times before, the reason we thought, and I still think that the other way is better. My honourable friend, I am willing to give him and the Government a chance if they want to try. I would rather see him administering it than a lot of his colleagues.

MR. J. COWAN (Winnipeg Centre): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Honourable member for St. Matthews, that the debate be adjourned.

MR. ROBLIN: With the motion on this, I would like to offer a suggestion about the rest of the business.

[Mr. Speaker read the motion, and after a voice vote declared the motion carried. ]

MR. ROBLIN: I am wondering, Sir, if there is any member who adjourned one of the Bills this afternoon who is prepared to continue the debate. If there is, I would suggest that we should do so.

MR. CAMPBELL: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable the First Minister is simply suggesting that we revert again as agreed to before we


rose at the dinner adjournment to the first of the Order Paper. I am afraid that his optimism is not well-founded, but if anyone is, I agree with him entirely. Let us go ahead.

MR. SPEAKER: Second readings? The Honourable Member for Rhineland, Bill No. 2.

MR. MILLER: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated before, I would prefer to let this matter stand until tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Clerk, what Bill is next, we have passed some of these, haven't we? Bill No. 3, the Honourable Member for Flin Flon.

MR. F. L. JOBIN (Flin Flon): Mr. Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to let this Bill stand, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 8, the Honourable member for Ste. Rose.

MR. G. MOLGAT (Ste. Rose): Sir, I too, would ask that this be allowed to stand.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 12, the Honourable Member for Radisson.

MR. PAULLEY: Mr. Speaker, may I allow this to stand likewise.

MR. ROBLIN: Well, Sir, having called the Roll and drawn a blank, I think possibly I should proceed to our final order of business and move that the House, seconded by the Honourable Minister for Agriculture, that the House do now adjourn and stand adjourned until 2:30 tomorrow afternoon.

[Mr. Speaker read the motion and after a voice vote, the House was ajourned until 2:30 the following day. ]

Manitoba Hansard

Page revised: 2 July 2009