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1867-1914 - Old Age and Poverty 1915-1927 - Our First Old Age Pension 1928-1951 - Demanding More 1952-1967 - Reducing Poverty 1968-1989 - Reaching More Canadians 1990-2000 - Pensions on Solid Ground 2000 on - A Secure Future

Reducing Poverty

Influential People

The success of the Canada Pension Plan was due in large part to unrelenting pressure from various federal and provincial politicians as well as from the public and labour groups.

NAC detail of PA-117097 L.B. Pearson and Judy LaMarsh , Nov 1960. (photo: Roels, Ron). Judy LaMarsh (1924-1980) represented Niagara Falls as a Liberal in Parliament between 1960 and 1968, and she served as Minister of National Health and Welfare from 1963 to 1965. LaMarsh oversaw the drafting of the Canada Pension Plan through its various stages, from the first proposal in 1963 to the passage of Bill C-136, An Act to Establish a Comprehensive Program of Old Age Pensions and Supplementary Benefits, and the implementation of the Canada Pension Plan in 1966. She also contributed to the creation of the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which was introduced in 1967.

Jean Lesage, Premier of Quebec, 1964 (photo: Cameron , Duncan) NAC-PA108147.Jean Lesage (1912-1980) represented the riding of Montmagny-l'Islet, Quebec. He left federal politics upon the defeat of Louis St-Laurent's Liberal government in 1957. As a Liberal Member of Parliament in Ottawa, Lesage took part in the development of the Old Age Security program. After leaving Ottawa he became the leader of the Quebec Liberal party and was elected Premier of Quebec in 1960. In early 1964, at a federal-provincial conference on the proposed Canada Pension Plan, he revealed his government's plans to create a separate Quebec Pension Plan. Lesage's term of office is associated with the beginnings of Quebec's Quiet Revolution, and his insistence on securing a separate pension plan is seen as an important part of the changing political atmosphere in Quebec at the time.

 Stanley Knowles, NAC - PA-047355,(photo: Roy, Arthur).Stanley Knowles (1908-1997) was a very active member of the Commonwealth Cooperative Federation and the New Democratic Party after its creation (which he oversaw) in 1961. Knowles took over J.S. Woodsworth's seat of Winnipeg North Central upon Woodsworth's death in 1942. He held the seat until 1958, and again from 1962 to 1984. His persistent lobbying both for large increases in Old Age Security benefits and for the introduction of the Canada Pension Plan helped keep the issue of pensions in the national political arena. Regarding Knowles's persistence on the issue of pensions, Judy LaMarsh praised his activism, stating, "no minister has ever done such a thing for an Opposition member before." (Judy LaMarsh, Memoirs of a Bird in a Gilded Cage, Toronto, 1969, p.96.)

John P. Robarts (1917-1971) was Premier of Ontario from 1961 to 1971. His decision to support the creation of the Canada Pension Plan was critical. Judy LaMarsh, the federal Minister of Health and Welfare, noted at the time:

"The participation of the provinces in the Canada Pension Plan was very important to us. It would have been impossible to bring in a universal, portable plan without provincial participation…If Ontario and the other provinces refused consent to add survivors' benefits to our plan, it would hurt. It would be fatal should Ontario decide to go it alone." (Ibid)