mendations that involve an annual outlay of, I think, $31,100. The report also makes extensions in the application of certain laws now in force, which extensions will undoubtedly involve us in extra expenditure. Then it goes on to provide that we shall extend the housing programme or policy adopted some two years ago and lay more money at the disposal of the provinces for use in house construction. It has been deemed wise on the part of the Government to recommend to Parliament compliance, in toto, with the report of the committee in these respects. I am sure the recommendations of the Government, embodied as they are in the Bill that has just been passed, the Bill now under consideration, and another Bill having to do with disabled men and the public, that was before the House yesterday, and, reflected in the Estimates that are still to come before the Committee of the Whole-I am sure the recommendations of the Government, following the report of the committee, will be favourably received by the House generally and by the country.
I want to make reference just here to certain considerations that, I hope, will be kept in mind by the citizens of Canada generally, but particularly by the returned men themselves. They have to do especially with a very insistent demand that, for purposes of relief of unemployment, of giving work to men who are now out of work, this Government should engage directly in a programme of house construction throughout Canada. It was strongly urged before the committee that we should follow, in the matter of construction of houses the same policy as was followed in the matter of placing returned men on the land; that loans should be provided through a Settlement Board on a certain basis of security, and that $50,000,000 should be set aside in order to launch that enterprise. I want to draw this consideration to the attention of Parliament and particularly to that of the returned men. It is not strict economy; it is not reasonable assistance, bringing results commensurate with costs or anything like it, to enter upon programmes of construction merely or mainly for the sake of employment. To do so may relieve for a short time, but it only arrests the necessary process of deflation. It only artificially sustains a situation which, as long as it is sustained, merely postpones the sufferings incident to deflation, which, in some form or another, must come before normal conditions return. If we enter upon a programme of house construction directly under this Government, operating
thousands of miles from the centre, lending money for purposes of construction, then I apprehend the tendency will be, by that very act, to sustain a level of prices of commodities entering into building operations, which, in the end, will prevent building operations rather than encourage them at the hands of private enterprise. That that result would ensue, there can be no doubt whatever; and because building for the sake of use is bound to come in any event-because it will pay-and because the advocated building is for the sake of employment rather than for the sake of use, I think it would be bound to result in there being left upon the hands of the Government, later on, the houses thus constructed. They could not be paid for because of conditions that were only postponed, that were merely alleviated by the programme, but that inevitably had to come. Those conditions having come, the men would find themselves utterly unable to pay for the houses after they were built.
I lay these considerations before the committee for what they are worth. I do not think this plan would afford more than a palliative, if a programme were entered upon such as is urged upon us. We would not have a cure; we would have simply a palliative; a palliative that would soor be at an end, the evil remaining and probably more formidable than ever. It is true that there is need for more' houses in this country at the present time, and I do not think we should regret that fact. It indicates that our population is probably advancing, and that the census returns may show results not disappointing. That that condition is a fact, I do not dispute; but in carrying on work of the kind suggested, we must insist upon the principle of local responsibility in so far as this Government assists at all. So long as you insist upon a principle of local responsibility, you place that check upon the promotion of expenditure that is essential if expenditure is to be sanely and wisely made. While you have local responsibility which the provinces may insist upon; while, in a word, you adopt the principle of lending money to the provinces -and the provinces working through municipalities, the municipalities see to it that houses are built, not purely, even not mainly, for the sake of employment, but upon sound, sensible principles-because the houses are needed, because they will be used and paid for. Consequently, I think the committee has been wise in recommending, as it has done, that we proceed, not upon new lines, but upon
the lines that we have followed in years gone by. If the House sees fit to vote the money, we put at the disposal of the provinces certain further advances to be used by them for purposes of house construction.
Let me repeat. Under that system the provinces are enabled to secure the responsibility of municipalities, and such local supervision as necessarily results, and there is no reason to apprehend that under those conditions there will be anything in the way of foolish or unjustifiable expenditure. Consequently, in the Estimates for this year, there will be found the sum of $12,000,000 for this purpose. The committee will recall that the appropriation originally was $25,000,000. Of that, approximately $15,000,000 has been expended by the provinces, leaving a little over $10,000,000 unexpended. That $10,000,000 is now available, and the Government has decided to adopt the principle of adding 25 per cent to what may be obtained by any province in Canada over the amount allotted under the previous appropriation, and to put in the Estimates this year such amount as they deem might be required by the provinces for the purpose aforesaid; that is to say, while there will be made available $6,250,000, being 25 per cent of the $25,000,000 already appropriated, there will not be required this year the entire balance, the entire balance being $16,250,000, that is to say, the $10,000,000 odd that remains unexpended of the original appropriation and the $6,250,000, being 25 per cent, of the original appropriation. There will be required this year, we think, not more than $12,000,000. Consequently, in the Estimates will be found an item of $12,000,000 in order to implement the recommendation in that respect contained in the report of the special committee.
In this regard I feel I should call attention to the special work done by the Department of Labour,-pursuant to the report of a previous special committee, in re-establishment, and in co-operation with the provinces,-of employment offices throughout this country. Those employment offices have been able to find situations for very, very many returned men. They work in co-operation with the Reestablishment Department, and I believe that the number that they have actually placed in work now exceeds 200,000.
There has also been appointed under legislation a National Advisory Council,
and that council, conferring as it does with the Department of Labour, has assisted very materially in helping labour conditions throughout this country, and especially in providing for the movement from place to place of returned men as well as others, thereby enlarging the area of employment. That we have unemployment in this country to-day is doubtless true; that we have unemployment above the average in this country, and too far above the average, is doubtless true; and that there is suffering as a result no one can deny. But we cannot keep out of mind this fact; that under conditions of deflation, which necessarily follow any period of inflation, under conditions of returning to lower levels of values, there is bound to be, and always has been, unemployment. To-day it is a world-wide condition, by no means confined to this country, nor do I think there is any country in the world where the per capita unemployment is less than in Canada to-day. Certainly there was no country where it was anything like so small, proportionately to population, as it was in Canada last winter. In Great Britain at this time, aside entirely from the effects of the strike, the percentage of unemployment far exceeds ours; it must be at least three or four times what it is here. In the United States it has exceeded ours, and if it does not exceed it now, it at least is equal to it. Consequently, by comparison, we have no reason to feel that conditions in this country in that regard are worse than anywhere else. Indeed, J think they are better than they are in any other industrial country in the world.
Now the question comes as to what should be done as regards this problem. The Government adopted the course last winter of insisting on local responsibility as regards unemployment. We had been compelled during the war, and indeed, up to last winter, more or less to disregard that principle, but we thought the time had come to restore it; and consequently, against very great, indeed, against what one might almost call violent pressure, the Government did insist upon that principle once again. We decided on this course; that we would assist general unemployment only where the municipality primarily assumed the burden, put in organization, and itself assumed the duty of paying for the organization; and then, if the municipality took care of one-third of the cost, and the province in which the municipality was, took care of another third,