In what year were family allowances instituted? — The law was passed in 1944; but it was first applied on July 1st 1945.
What monthly allowance was set by law? $5.00 a month for each child under 6 years of age; $6.00. a month for the ages 6 to 10; $7.00 a month for 10 to 12; $8.00 a month for 13 to 16.
In the over-all picture for Canada this is equivalent to $6.00 per month per child. This means an average of 20 cents a day.
This is what it was in 1945. It is still the same in 1956 even though the cost of living has doubled since 1945.
Everything has gone up during these 11 years. Everything, even the salaries of our representatives in the government, which have more than doubled, climbing from $4,000 to $10,000 a year. But family allowances have remained at 20 cents a day. They are frozen to this meagre 20 cents a day by the same government and the same parliament which displayed so much enthusiasm over raising the salaries of the members of parliament and the ministers of the government.
We cannot blame the members for having thought of themselves in revising their salary scales in the face of the increase in cost of living; but we do blame them for having forgotten to revise the family allowance quota.
The cost of living has gone up for families as well as for you, our representatives in parliament.
If members received the same honorariums as they did ten years ago, they could very well complain about shabby treatment because $4,000 in 1956 represents only half the buying power of $4,000 in 1945.
The same thing holds for family allowances, set at 20 cents a day.
With 20 cents, in 1945, one could buy two quarts of milk. With the same 20 cents in 1956 one can buy only one quart. What is the reason for this? Cannot the country supply as much milk in 1956 as in 1945?
A pair of shoes priced at $2.50 in 1945 costs $5.00 in 1956. Maintaining the family allowance at the same level rations shoes by 50 per cent. Why? Can't the shoe industry turn out as many pairs of shoes to-day as in 1945?
The same situation holds all along the line.
It is equivalent to allowances reduced by half. Why?
The Liberal party was in power in 1945. The Liberals pride themselves — and rightly so in being the first to establish family allowances in Canada. But it is the same party that is in power to-day and which is bringing disgrace upon itself by allowing everything to increase except the family allowance. Every year, when a motion by a member (like the Argue motion) expresses the wish to see the government raise family allowances, it is the Liberal members who block the motion. Does the Liberal party regret the good it accomplished in 1945? Is the party pleased to see family allowances, and nothing else but family allowances, lose their value?
The minister of Social Welfare, the Hon. Paul Martin, in whose ministry family allowances are set up, has declared that it is definitely the duty of production to carry the burden of all pensions and allowances established by law.
This is true. It is certainly not the government that makes butter, shoes, clothing. Neither is it the banks. It is the productive system of the country which takes on that responsibility. And it is the productive system of the country that would have to fill all orders arising from more adequate pensions and allowances.
But has the productive system of the country begun to default? Has it become impotent — incapable of supplying for an extra 20 cents value of goods per day to the children of our country.
This would, after all, amount to only the same quantity of goods as eleven years ago.
Have we heard a single merchant say to a mother of a family: "Madam, you are buying too much for your children; you are emptying my store more rapidly than I can fill it. I could supply you in 1945; I can no longer supply you in 1956."
Have we heard a single industrialist, a single farmer, complaining about consumers buying too many industrial or agricultural products? Do we not rather hear the opposite complaint? And are the 300,000 jobless of our country out of work because production is moving too rapidly or is it rather because products accumulate instead of moving?
No. There is no reason for thus rationing the children of Canada. The country is as capable as it was in 1945 of supplying the same amount of produce per child as was granted by the family allowance that year. Cutting this amount in half is simply an act of contempt with regard to the family.
Answering the demand for doubling family allowances would mean practically nothing as far as productive strain on the country is concerned. Look at the accumulated stocks. Look at the unemployed who represent obtsructed production.
It is because the horizon of the politician is limited by the sign of the dollar that he does not see what the country can produce. He closes his eyes on the rate of flow of products and sees only the rate of flow of money. If money does not flow with the same rhythm as the products, it is the money system that is paralyzing the possibilities of the productive system, and this demands action. The politician who does not realize this, or who does not bother about it, is benumbed, or cowed, or straitjacketed in a party subservient to the rulers of a vitiated financial system.
The problem of dollars has never prevented a government from putting full production into action for wars or for armaments. Why is the dollar problem insolvable when there is question of helping families to raise children?