Mr. G. D. STANLEY (East Calgary):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to offer a few observations in regard to this bill. First I feel that one should set down the basic understanding of what housing is. The discussion so far might lead one to suppose that it is a matter of construction mechanics, but we were given to understand in the special study of this matter which the committee made that housing as it is defined is a much larger problem than simply the construction of homes. It is a social question. It is very broad in its scope, and one might undertake to say that it includes preventive measures, for instance. It cannot be separated from the general consideration of town planning, and when one speaks of measures for housing one must consider it from that standpoint. Preventive measures certainly belong to it; for instance, the prevention of disease, the prevention of crime, the prevention of delinquency, the prevention of fire, and the consideration of the question must also include such very important things as transportation, parks and all these other matters which are included in the broader and more inclusive consideration of housing. Hence it is borne home to us that in entering upon a housing scheme now, we must do it with the understanding that it is a continuing problem, that we are simply making a start with some phases of it, and it is so important that the foundation of the policy which will direct the nation in its housing undertakings should be laid properly, carefully and well.
Various important points might be urged, but the first thing that occurs to me is that the committee after taking evidence and hearing reports from a large number of experts thoroughly conversant with the housing question brought in a report inclusive and much broader than a report covering simply the question of construction mechanics. The committee endeavoured to go into the whole question of housing or town planning, if you will, and the committee brought in a favourable report.
The next important point that occurs to me is that the government has accepted the principle. European countries, including Great Britain, have already established housing policies and have entered into the whole matter of housing in a very large way. The United States and Canada have not done so heretofore, but now the committee has reported favourably on the establishment of a national policy in Canada in connection
with housing. The government itself has accepted the principle and therefore it is acknowledged that if this bill becomes legislation the nation itself accepts the housing obligation. I think that is an important point to urge. No matter how far we go at the present time, so long as we have established the principle and accepted the state obligation, we have at least started on the proper basis and have made a safe and sound beginning.
Then the government gives us this measure. It is an implementing measure. It may not go as far as some of us might wish it to go. I know it does not go as far as my hon. friend from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) and some others would like it to go. The main thing is that as a start it is implementing the recommendations of the committee which accepted this principle and by so doing it implies -a state obligation in connection with housing. The velocity of its progress is a detail. How far we go this year, how far we will go next year or the years after is for the next parliament or parliaments to decide. Our duty today is to make a start and see that that start is made on the proper basis.
When the ball was introduced there was some discussion in connection with the use of the word "commission." Hon. members who were members of the committee realized that in order to bring in a unanimous report it was necessary to compromise,, to give and take in one way and another. The result was what I consider to be a very excellent report. The word used in the first clause of the recommendation was "authority" while the resolution upon whioh this bill is founded used the word "commissioner." At the moment I am not particularly interested in whether the authority is a specific commission as long as we establish the basis upon which a start will be made. We must delegate to a specific authority the duty of establishing a national policy on housing. It was borne home to those of us who were on the committee that in order to make a success of any housing undertaking it would be necessary to delegate the administration of the policy to those who were trained in that particular kind of work. This work cannot be undertaken by busy officials attached to, say, the Department of Finance, it must be delegated to persons who are expert in this work and who are prepared to investigate, study, report and advise upon the whole question of housing. Consequently, the commission or whatever authority may be appointed must be competent to handle the problem of housing in its broadest sense.
Housing Act-Mr. Stanley