June 24, 1935

CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

Distinguished as were

members of the committee, and valiantly as they worked, I do not think any person would contend, least of all members of the committee, that in the few sittings held they could outline or lay the basis of a definite scheme. I believe that as preliminary legislation the bill is well advised; it affords opportunity for further study and for an examination of all the factors which should be considered before defining a vast national housing scheme. It may very well be that there is some opportunity for immediate construction. But the point to which I wish to address myself for a few moments is not how we are going to build, not how we are going to finance that building but where we are going to build. The hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps), the hon. member for East Hamilton (Mr. Mitchell) and other hon. members have spoken as if of necessity construction must take place in the urban centres. If one examines figures now available concerning unemployment he will see that unemployment is found almost exclusively in the larger centres of population, and while a vast program of construction might furnish temporary employment for those unemployed craftsmen susceptible of absorption into the building trades, there is no guarantee of perpetual work in those centres in which homes may be erected. It may well be that by providing homes for large sections of the population in places where there is no permanent work we would be perpetuating unemployment. As the hon. member who spoke last (Mr. Mitchell) was addressing the house I reviewed rapidly figures which I believe have been made available to eveiy hon. member, and which show the number of people on relief in various centres of the dominion. I turn to Hamilton: I admit that a proportion of the unemployed in that city might be absorbed into the building trades, but I believe it is a fact that to no inconsiderable extent unemployment in that city is a result of stagnation in the manufacturing industries which depend for their activity upon foreign markets. I shall say only a word about Hamilton, because I prefer to speak about Montreal, with which I am more familiar. At the moment it is difficult

Housing Act-Mr. Hackett

to see how we are going to regain those markets so long as the commodities we offer are being produced in large quantities by nearly every country. If we restrict to the cities a great proportion of a building program I fail to see how we can make such a program beneficial to the whole people.

For instance, I find that in Hamilton 2,495 labourers, 269 machinists, 141 mechanics, 132 moulders, 152 steel workers and 177 in miscellaneous trades are on the dole. I point this out only to indicate that it is a shortsighted policy which assumes that even after we have built homes for them there is going to be work in that city for these people. I suggest that a wiser plan would be to construct homes outside the cities for those who have recently left the land so that they might find themselves in an environment where at least they could provide for themselves.

I have before me a document prepared by the Department of Social Research of McGill university and which, I believe, was given to all hon. members when the mayors visited the city of Ottawa. This document discloses that in greater Montreal, with a population of 1,149,900, there were 213,263 on relief, and that $6,049,100 was expended by government last year for their maintenance. It furthermore shows that since 1930, $175,794,000 has been spent in providing for people who are out of work. I suggest, as I have frequently done in the last three or four years, that the only permanent and effective cure for unemployment is to remove from the cities a very substantial element that has recently found its way into the cities and to put them where they can provide for themselves. It is beside the question to cite the example of Great Britain, which is a highly industrialized and densely populated country, with a very small area. The last speaker made some reference to Austria. Austria now has a very restricted territory with a capital city whose population, if my memory serves me well, constitutes nearly half the population of the entire country. The housing problem of such a country cannot be compared with our problem and should not be referred to by people who are seeking the benefit of useful experience acquired elsewhere.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that a building program is an excellent thing but it is folly to assume that this building should be carried on in its entirety in the cities. We talk about slum clearance; I suggest that it is much better to take people away from these sordid conditions, away from unemployment, and put them into organized communities outside the cities, and build them homes where they will cost less than they do in the

[Mr Hackett.]

cities, and where on a few acres of ground these people can at least provide for themselves the essentials of fuel, raiment and food. It is not necessary that these people should engage in farming on a large scale, but it is essential that they be free from the corroding inactivity and the many temptations which result from herding unemployed men in large cities. I therefore hope that whatever may be done, no definite program will be undertaken until a thorough canvass has been made of the whole situation, and that it be made a part of a definite plan to reestablish equilibrium in the country.

Topic:   PROVISION FOR LOANS BY GOVERNMENT AND LENDING INSTITUTIONS UP TO EIGHTY PER CENT OF COST OF CONSTRUCTION
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UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Wetaskiwin):

Mr. Speaker, I assume that the principle of the bill now before us is a national housing scheme or program for Canada. I recognize, of course, that so far as carrying that program into effect is concerned the provisions of the bill are very inadequate, but so far as that principle has been adopted I think it is all to the good.

This legislation is very much like a great deal of the legislation of this session; it is far more acceptable in its tendencies than it is from the point of view of anticipated practical results. There can be little doubt that there is a great need for the building of many houses in Canada. The previous speaker (Mr. Hackett) was wondering where they were going to be built, in the cities or in the country, but the answer is that they will have to be built both in urban and in rural districts, wherever they are needed. But that many houses are required no one doubts; neither does anyone doubt that there is an abundance of building material in Canada to supply all the houses that are needed. In addition to that, there is any amount of skilled labour now idle, men who are anxious to get the opportunity of building houses for the people of Canada. So we oome down to the same old question which has stood in the way of this government and previous governments on every occasion, that of getting the money to do the job that needs to be done. The very fact that the government have taken this baby step in the great task of building for the people of Canada homes that are required is sufficient proof that the need is there, but the fact that they have provided only a meagre $10,000,000 with which to do it indicates the belief of the government that this country is too poor financially to do the job.

I am interested in this bill not in order to provide employment; I think it would be a foolish policy to build houses just to give people jobs. If the houses are going to be built they should be built because they are

Housing Act-Mr. Irvine

required, and, sir, if they are required then I suggest that there is not any monetary policy that should prevent them from being built. I want to state in connection with this bill a principle which is not new to this house, although it is not accepted by this house, a principle which has been enunciated from this corner of the house from year to year. It is this: if there is a human need for certain services, and if it is physically possible to produce those services, then it is always financially possible and financially advisable to provide those services.

I am going to take exception to this bill, not as I have said against its principle, because with its principle I am in agreement; but I take exception in the first place to the meagre amount that is provided for the great task with which the bill presumes to deal. As the hon. member for East Hamilton (Mr. Mitchell) has just said, I doubt whether any houses will be built under the provisions of this measure; but even if the act be taken advantage of, the amount of money provided will be far short of what is actually needed for the building of houses in Canada to-day. Then on more important grounds, I take exception to the manner in which the money is provided. Everyone recognizes that capitalism has fallen down in the building of houses just as it has in almost every other undertaking of human service in 'Canada. Just as the grain trade fell down in the marketing of grain, so have the private builders and contractors failed to provide houses for the people. The manner in which this bill provides for assistance where the capitalistic system has fallen down is on an entirely capitalistic basis. It proposes to borrow money from the money mongers for the purpose of building houses for the people of Canada, houses which must be paid for at a certain rate of interest. Under prevailing conditions these houses will never be paid for under the rates of interest to be charged.

I want to suggest that instead of a meagre $10,000,000 the government advance $300,000.000. This advance can be made from the national credit. If the undertaking is good enough for the money lenders, it is good enough for the government. The assets will be just as safe for government- investment as they would be for the investments of private corporations. The amount of money which I have suggested will not create inflation as there is far too little money in circulation at the present time. It would simply provide a little stimulus to business by putting that much more money into circulation. This bill suggests merely a shot in the arm for the capitalistic system; it creates only ten grains

of pep, not enough even to raise the arm or furnish a single kick. I doubt if this amount will bring about the construction of any houses, whereas $300,000,000 provided out of the national credit and devoted to the building of houses would make a considerable difference.

The question will be asked: How are these homes to be paid for by the people who will live in them? I suggest that the whole thing should be carried out under an amortization plan by which the occupants of the houses would pay an annual sum based upon the deterioration of the houses so that when the asset was wiped out the government would have in its coffers every penny which had been expended. This would not provide for a single copper by way of interest to anyone. At the moment I am not advocating that all public services should be carried on in this way, although I think they should be; but this is a very necessary service. The people need homes and the government should provide them. Whatever is physically possible is financially possible, and everything necessary should be dlone for the comforts of the people. I ask the right hon. gentleman who is in charge of this bill to indicate what is wrong, either from a financial or economic point of view, with the suggestion I have made. I do not think any hon. member, either on the government side or on this side of the house, will say that the financing of a national housing scheme can be justified on any other basis than the one I have suggested1. I hope the government will alter this bill accordingly.

Topic:   PROVISION FOR LOANS BY GOVERNMENT AND LENDING INSTITUTIONS UP TO EIGHTY PER CENT OF COST OF CONSTRUCTION
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CON

Arthur D. Ganong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. D. GANONG (Charlotte):

Mr. Speaker in dealing with this matter we must consider two closely related problems. The 1931 census shows that for the last three years the population of Canada has been growing at the rate of 27,000 families of 4-68 persons per year. As families are growing smaller, the probabilities are that the increase in the number of families is even greater. The need for houses is even greater than is shown by the increase in the number of families. Last year there were 26,000 fires in residential properties and many houses must have been totally destroyed. Other houses are tom down for sanitary reasons or to make room for other buildings. We would probably need at least 35,000 new houses each year, but according to the records, only 10,000 houses per year have been built in Canada during the last three years. At the present time we need at least 25,000 housing units. It is only a matter of arithmetic to arrive at the conclusion that unless something is done to encourage housing within the next two years we will be faced with a housing crisis.

Housing Act-Mr. Ganong

With all due respect to the minister who has introduced this bill, I must say that it makes no provision for housing the low paid worker. However, for the $10,000,000 provided by the bill we will be able to get $50,000,000 worth of new houses. I believe the government are trying to build the most houses in the best way with the least money and in that way they are taking a step towards the solving of the housing problem. The reference to the committee contained the phrase, "and the burden to be imposed upon the treasury of Canada." Should this scheme work out-and I shall take up that point in a few minutes-we will be investing $10,000,000 for which we will get $50,000,000 worth of new houses. These houses will be built as a mass production proposition; the rates of interest will probably be lower than ordinary commercial rates, and the houses should rent easier than houses built under ordinary conditions. For these reasons the $10,000,000 should be particularly secure. It is estimated in England that for every $1,000 expended in new housing, $250 is saved in relief expenditures. If that same formula applies to this country, this investment of $10,000,000 will save us over $10,000,000 in relief expenditures by the municipal, provincial and dominion governments. I believe that this bill will provide the houses which are needed at a price lower than could be provided by any other method. The bill is only what its title states, an act to assist the construction of houses; it is in no way an act to take care of the housing of the low paid worker.

The second problem which we must face is the distressful conditions under whicn many of our people are forced to live. A survey of the city of Winnipeg showed that in four districts there were 1,300 families each of which was living, cooking and sleeping in one room, many of them attic rooms. In all our cities similar conditions prevail and something should be done to take care of these people. In this regard we have an entirely different problem and a much more difficult one than they had in Great Britain. In

England they build a great many houses; under the Addison scheme they built 176,000 houses. To show how much study this subject requires, it is estimated that with the same amount of money-the Addison scheme was instituted in 1919-they could build today 1,000,000 houses and rent at half the rate at which the Addison houses were rented. In England they can build what they call a standard house, that is a house for the low. wage earner, which will provide sleeping rooms for the parents and for the children

of both sexes, separate, and a living room kitchen, for $1,760. According to the report made by the Montreal board of trade, which is the best we have in Canada on housing, it would cost $3,500 to build a similar house in this country, a house that would give equal living conditions. We have a great handicap in our climate. In England that house with interest at three and a quarter per cent amortized at one-half per cent for sixty years can rent at $11.05 per month. In Canada, for a house that would give equal accommodation and an equal standard of living, with the money at three and a half per cent, which is probably cheaper than it could possibly be obtained, and amortized for sixty years at three-quarters per cent, the rental would be $28.73 per month.

The ordinary workman can pay only one-fifth of his income in rent; otherwise he has to take away from his food or clothing or from something else which will interfere with his health. You can readily see the problem we are up against in this country when we come to take care of the low wage earner. In England they have given outright over $800,000,000 and they are pledged to $80,000,000 for the next twenty or thirty years; and in addition to that they have invested almost $2,000,000,000 on which they will get interest. In this country the cost would be so tremendous that it should never be undertaken without a great deal of study. The present bill tends to take care of the housing problem- the crisis we shall have to face within the next two or three years. We must remember that this country is growing faster to-day than it has done at any other time. We are 'holding our birth rate, something we have never done before. The immigration that came in used to make this a stepping stone to the United States and we lost a great many of our own people. The bill takes care of this problem to some extent from the standpoint of what is going to be done for the low wage earner; under section 3 the economic council of Canada is to study the question.

As chairman of the committee I met a good many persons who might be called town planning and housing cranks. I worked with them for two months and at the end of that time was converted. I think that rather than cranks they are torch bearers to something that is coming. This housing problem must be faced. We cannot continue to allow thousands of families in this country to live in one room under unsanitary conditions as they are and have been for the last few years. It is a tremendous problem and we should not touch it without a great deal of study.

Housing Act-Mr. Moore (Ontario)

This bill does so to a small extent. As I say, my association with these men convinced me that something should be done and done at once. When the resolution was first brought in it was moved as:

expedient to bring in a measure to establish a dominion housing commission and to assist in the construction of houses.

I was rather disappointed when the minister changed this resolution. I might frankly say that I know the majority of the committee are not in favour of the commission, but the problem is so great, it has so many different implications, that I do not believe, unless under this economic council a special committee is appointed, that we shall1 ever have a solution of the problem. I do feel however that the present, bill does go part of the way in solving it.

The hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler) said that the mortgage companies would not be willing to advance an eighty per cent mortgage. We had the representatives of the mortgage companies before our committee and they said that there was a great deal of money available at 5i per cent. Further, they were very anxious to lend it. Section 5, under which the minister and the lending institutions jointly take the mortgage, is no doubt there for some special reason. This I do not know, but I should be inclined to think, and it will undoubtedly be discussed in committee, that the mortgage companies 'would be willing to do it.

The hon. member for East Hamilton (Mr. Mitchell1) spoke of building for the ordinary workman, In the city the workman has to move from time to time to the place where his work is, and from the evidence given before the committee it does not seem wise for the ordinary unskilled workman to own his own home. It is far better for him to have some security, whereby he will have ready money in the event of his having to move, than for him to tie himself up with a house.

I should like to say a word about the work of the committee. The hon. member for West Lambton (Mr. Gray) referred to the chairman. This report is not the chairman's report. We had one of the best committees that could be picked from this house. They worked well together; a stranger, if he were in the committee at, any time, could not tell which side of the house any one of the members belonged to. There was an honest endeavour to ascertain the facts and to find some solution, and I think if the members will read and study the report, considering the time we had, the evidence we could get

and the very limited information at our disposal, they will realize that it is an excellent report.

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LIB

William Henry Moore

Liberal

Mr. W. H. MOORE (Ontario):

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LIB

Robert McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. ROBERT McKENZIE (Assiniboia) :

I was not a member of the special committee on housing, but I desire to make a few remarks, and, like the hon. member who preceded me (Mr. Moore, Ontario),, I might make a suggestion. This bill is designed to assist the small wage earners, particularly in our cities and towns, who are unable to provide homes for themselves. The purpose is a very laudable one. But in our towns and villages to-day you can buy houses for fifty per cent of what it would cost to build them. Why? Because people are fast losing their equity in their homes and will sell them even at a sacrifice price while they can get a little out of them for themselves. In many cases the buildings are getting out of repair; taxes are an important factor, and that situation is not being helped by such measures as are proposed in this bill and some others that have been brought before this house. Therefore I say that some consideration must be given to the man who is to-day holding on to his property, struggling to save it, keeping his taxes paid and his interest, if he has any, and other charges.

I was interested in reading the report of the committee, and I noticed in it one clause which suggested that something be done in regard to repairs. This bill provides that loans are to be made for the purpose of constructing houses. Paragraph (b) of subsection 2 of section 4 provides that not exceeding twenty per cent of the cost may be

Housing Act-Mr. McKenzie

advanced by the government, the expectation being that sixty per cent will be advanced by lending institutions, the applicant himself making up the remaining twenty per cent. That simply means, as has been said, that there will be no money advanced, because the mortgage companies will not lend sixty per cent of the appraised value with only eighty per cent security behind it. At present you cannot get them to lend fifty per cent with one hundred per cent of the value of the property behind it.

I am sorry that this bill does not contain anything to carry out the suggestion made by the committee in regard to repairs. In the part of the country from which I come there are plenty of houses, but unfortunately they are getting very much out of repair. If the government could devise some scheme under which small loans could be made to the owners of property for the purposes of repairs, at a low rate of interest or at no interest-because we are giving out enormous sums of money without interest, such as the million dollars for the tunnel in Toronto- an immense impetus would be given to business. To-day if a building goes out of repair it is allowed to remain so; if a door is off the hinges they do not buy new hinges and repair it. We read in the papers of houses being burnt simply because the chimney was out of repair. The people cannot afford to make these repairs. In my community the trades hardest hit by unemployment are carpenters, masons and painters, and the businesses suffering most are hardware and lumber. If a small part of this money were set aside for small loans for repairs at a very low rate of interest, the painting and repairing which would be done would give a great deal of employment to those who need it in the building trades and would also help the hardware business and the lumber industry, which are in sore need.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. F. G. SANDERSON (South Perth):

I was not a member of the housing committee but 1 took a good deal of interest in its deliberations and report. I am thoroughly in accord with the principle of a housing scheme; I am only sorry that the scheme that has been brought down by the government does not meet the situation at all, The hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Stanley), who is now acting Speaker, said this afternoon that in this bill the government were implementing a housing scheme, and I quite agree with him. But I am afraid that there is very little in the bill to help the low wage earner, and I contend that the first principle of this Ml should be something to assist the

wage earner, especially the low wage earner, in 'building and owning a house for himself and his family. Apparently there is conflict among members on the government side in regard to the provisions of this bill, because we had it from the acting Prime Minister (Sir George Perley) this afternoon that the bill was primarily for the assistance of the low wage earner,, and we heard from the chairman of the committee (Mr. Ganong) that it was the intention of the committee and in its report it had in view the giving of assistance to the low wage earner in building a house. But if I heard aright the remarks of the chairman of the committee -and if I am wrong I shall be glad to be corrected-I understood him to say he did not agree with the minister who introduced the bill; that it offered very little by way of assistance to the low wage earner. Am I night in that?

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CON

Arthur D. Ganong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GANONG:

What I tried to say was that the 'bill is exactly as is stated on the face of it. It is an act to assist the construction of houses, but that does not necessarily mean houses for low wage earners.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

Then I still think what I have in mind is correct, namely, that the bill offens no relief to the low wage earner who may wish to build a home.

I consider this one of the most important measures of social legislation the government has brought down this session. If it were a measure so framed as to help the working people of Canada its effect would be far reaching. But the bill before us gives no relief to the unemployed; it gives no relief to the employed man working at low wages and very little relief to any person receiving a salary and desiring assistance in the building of a house. The purpose behind a bill such as this should first of all be that of giving some measure of relief to the unemployed. I have no desire to be critical of the government, ibut it does appear to me that this bill came in on crutches, so far as the possibility of its helping that for which it was designed is concerned. There is nothing in the bill which would help the common people, the workers or the labourers desiring to build houses. The right hon. member for Argenteuil (Sir George Perley) stated when introducing the bill that the government was introducing a measure to help the poor man. Well, if the right hon. gentleman thinks this bill will help the low wage earner or the poor man, I am afraid he knows very little about the problems the poor people of Canada are facing. Again I say I do not wish to be

Housing Act-Mr. Sanderson

misunderstood. I am heartily in support of and in sympathy with any measure brought down by this or any other government to give relief to the poor people of Canada facing the housing problem. It appears to me that if the government wanted to give assistance through a housing scheme it should have brought the legislation down earlier in the session, and not in the dying days of a dying parliament, when there is not very much life left in the government-and there will be very much less life left in it after they have appealed to the people. Had they brought the legislation down in 1930, 1931 or 1932, it might have been of some use. They have forgotten that the great majority of Canadian working people have found it very difficult even to keep roofs over their heads. Not only tha-t, but the government have forgotten that the ordinary wage earner has not been able to get enough work to earn the money to pay rent. They have forgotten that in certain parts of Canada today there are more vacant houses than there have ever been in our history. Yet the government come in at this late hour of the session with a half-baked scheme-because that is what it is -to build houses for people who cannot afford to build their own.

Let us turn to some of the provisions indicating the assistance the borrower would get under the scheme. If he -can get a loan company to put up sixty per cent of the amount he wishes to borrow, a borrower will have against him a mortgage to the extent of eighty per cent of the value of his property.

I doubt very much, however, whether any loan or insurance companies in Canada would advance much money under the bill as it now stands. Prom what I know of the history of insurance -companies I do not believe they would lend much money under a measure containing the restrictions which are found in the measure before us. Within the last two weeks representations were made to a committee by the life insurance companies to rhe effect that they did not want any reduction in the rate of interest on money they had loaned to their policyholders. I do not intend to discuss that point, but I must say that if the life insurance companies have money to lend to their own policyholders, the best asset they have, not very much money would come out of their vaults to be advanced as loans under this measure.

The borrower is handicapped before he starts. He must arrange with either a loan company or an insurance company for a loan up to sixty per cent of the value of the land and building. Then the government will come in and lend twenty per cent, placing him in

the position of starting out with a mortgage of eighty per- cent. If he has it, he puts up the balance. How many wage earners in Canada, men receiving $550, $1,200, $1,250 or $1,500 a year, can put up twenty per cent of the amount they want to borrow? Very few. They have not that much money because they have not been able to earn it. I can readily understand that if some scheme were worked out under which a large number of houses could be built, mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, plumbers and labourers of other kinds would receive a great deal of work. That is one of the best features of the bill. But that work will not be given, because the restrictions are such that people wanting to borrow money will not find it available.

I suggest that the government withdraw this bill, give the matter further consideration and place before us a bill upon which we could be unanimous. I do not -believe there is an hon. member who is not in full accord and sympathy with and anxious to support a housing scheme that is a housing scheme. But a bill of this kind is nothing more than a pretence, nothing more than a sham. If the bill passes and becomes law, while I will not go as far as my hon. friend from East Hamilton and say that not one house will be built under it, I predict that the number built will be very few. What we want is an act that will help the situation and assist in the building of houses, but the government, have missed the point in every way.

Mr. CAMERON R. McINTOSH (North Battleford): Mr. Speaker, I desire to occupy just a few minutes of the time of the house to take part in the discussion of this bill to assist in the construction of houses. I have not had the opportunity this afternoon of listening to all the speakers who have participated -in the debate, but so far as. the importance of the subject is concerned I think there is no question about it. As a matter of fact when the government took upon itself the duty of appointing a special committee of the house to investigate housing conditions in Canada, that in itself was proof that the government w-as at least taking an interest in a new problem, a problem in which a great deal of interest has been taken in the republic across the border, in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe. As their housing problems have developed and as they have approached them and to some extent solved them, interest in the problem has spread to Canada, and the fact that the government appointed a committee of the house to investigate housing;

Housing Act-Mr. McIntosh

conditions in this dominion was a forward step, a step in the right direction. We may-say that it is a small beginning, but after all, small beginnings sometimes bring forth large results. As I was a member of that committee I thought I would make a few remarks on the bill and also on the work of the committee.

The committee held quite a number of meetings and considerable evidence was adduced. I think it was the general opinion of the committee, of the chairman, whom I was pleased to hear speak this afternoon, and of every member of the committee, that we did not have time enough to investigate this problem in all its ramifications. The feeling of every member of the committee was that the investigation as far as that special committee of the house was concerned had just started, that its work was by no means consummated, that a great deal of ground had not been touched at all, that there was a great deal of investigation still to be undertaken which should foe dealt with by a standing or special committee of this house on some future occasion. That means what? It means that although it was a hopeful sign that the government appointed the committee, as it is also a hopeful sign that hon. members of the house are taking a great deal of interest in the question, yet we do not thoroughly know all the ground that ought to be known, and I do not think any person can successfully argue, against that position. A few years ago the house was investigating the question of insurance against unemployment, sickness and invalidity, and when the investigation had been completed and the report of the committee accepted by the house we found that the provinces lagged behind. We passed on the report to the provinces and the provinces took no interest in the question. I maintain, Mr. Speaker, that this report of the housing committee ought to be passed on to every provincial government in Canada; their reactions to i.t ought to be got, and after that the dominion government will know better where it stands in respect to the question. Combined action as far as possible is very desirable.

There is no question about the importance of the problem. I believe we all recognize that. But so far as the municipalities and the provinces are concerned, and even the dominion government itself in a large way, we do not know much about just what ought to be done or precisely what is required to be done. The government has simply made a start on the problem of housing. That is all. The amount involved' does

not amount to much. I agree with the hon. member for South Perth (Mr. Sanderson) and the hon. member for West Lambton (Mr. Gray) and some other speakers that from the standpoint of the ten million dollars involved the bill does not go very far, and therefore if we test the sincerity of the government and its objective by the amount of money .it intends to vote to make a start on this thing, there is no doubt that the conclusion is discouraging. It is no wonder that some hon. members who have spoken have taken the ground that the government should have given the question more consideration, should have come forward with perhaps a more constructive and encouraging bill and should have started, as it were, on larger ground to build an edifice so far as housing is concerned that would1 have been a credit and honour to the dominion. I believe the government could have done much better than it has done in the introduction of this bill.

The discussion that I have heard in the house so far has largely been concerned with urban housing, with the building of bouses for the low paid wage earner in the metropolitan centres of Canada, in the industrial centres which have been built up largely by protection in Canada. It is admitted that their housing conditions are poor and that t)he time has come for constructive action, and the tendency of the argument during this debate has been that this bill applies in the main to the large industrial centres and to the low paid industrial workers. But as a member representing a great rural riding in western Canada I am not going to take that point of view. I am going to take a larger view. There is certainly room for the expenditure of money on housing in Winnipeg, in Vancouver, in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, in Halifax and other centres, but I am bound to say that if that is the conception the government has of housing, its housing program will not amount to much as far as solving the housing problem in this country is concerned. We must take a larger view, and that larger view flakes in the housing accommodation of the hundreds of thousands of farmers in the western provinces, in Alberta, in Saskatchewan, in Manitoba-that is in the great middle west. The housing accommodation of these poor farmers who have been up against high protection for the last thirty or forty years, paying very dearly for everything they have to buy and getting very little for what they have to sell, is deplorable. They cannot build houses, and so numbers of them are living in shacks,

Homing Act-Mr. McIntosh

many of them in hovels. If this housing program does not touch these people at all, then as Bright says: We have yet to learn the art of government, yet to learn how by legislating to bring happiness and joy into the homes of the poor people whether in the rural areas or the cities and towns. But the bill does not say very much about improving the housing coanditions in the rural areas, and. since I -come from a great rural area that is fast developing,, I maintain that these rural areas ouight to be included in this housing program and ought to be put on a parity at least with the industrial centres of this dominion. If this were the intention of the government I believe there would be a larger .amount mentioned in the bill; there is no doubt about it.

This problem should be investigated thoroughly and that is going to take time. The question arises as to what body will do this investigating. I believe the members of the committee were of the opinion that a special housing committee would be established for this purpose, but I notice that the bill provides that the economic council, commonly known as the "brain trust," is to be entrusted with the investigation of this important problem. This brain trust is made up. of heads of departments of government residing in Ottawa, and if these departmental heads are to undertake the complete investigation of this matter they will have to change themselves into a perambulating body. They will have to go out into the west and through the rural areas to see how the people are living and why they cannot build better homes. If they do they will conclude that economic and industrial conditions are against these people, that they make it impossible for them to improve their living conditions. The very foundation of this housing problem is the reconstruction of our economic and industrial life and until we take some action in that respect I am afraid the government will never come forward with sufficient money to make housing conditions in the rural and urban areas what they ought to be. I again stress the importance of getting all the available facts. It may be necessary to enlarge the membership of the economic council or to establish a real housing body to investigate this problem in all its details. In that way a report which means something more truly national can be obtained and the government of Canada, backed by the required public opinion developed from year to year, can-with the cooperation of provinces, municipalities and various lending and building

corporations-put into effect a housing program eminently worth while.

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?

Right Hon. S@

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great interest to the speeches made by hon. members on both sides of the house in connection with this very important question. I think my hon. friends opposite are entitled to considerable sympathy because of the position in which they find themselves with regard to this bill. They take the position that there is nothing in it but at the same time they are prepared to support it. The hon. gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. McIntosh) says in one breath that we are doing nothing and in the next breath that it does not amount to much. According to his argument we are doing what he wishes us to do-nothing. Look at the position in which the Liberal party finds itself.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

What about the position in which the government finds itself?

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CON

George Halsey Perley (Minister Without Portfolio)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

We have been criticized to-night by several hon. members on the other side.

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LIB

Cameron Ross McIntosh

Liberal

Mr. McINTOSH:

I admitted that you had made a start.

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CON

George Halsey Perley (Minister Without Portfolio)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

I take it that the hon. member is prepared to support the bill. Why did not hon. gentlemen opposite bring this in several years ago? This government has had the courage to bring in such a bill and we must be given credit for that. Although my hon. friends opposite were in power for years they never thought of bringing in a bill of this kind.

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LIB

Ross Wilfred Gray

Liberal

Mr. GRAY:

Everybody had a house then.

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LIB

Cameron Ross McIntosh

Liberal

Mr. McINTOSH:

There were good times.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

The times were prosperous then.

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LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Is this not really the bill of the hon. member for East Toronto (Mr. Church)? He introduced a resolution in this connection.

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CON

George Halsey Perley (Minister Without Portfolio)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

The hon. member for East Toronto raised the question.

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LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

And not the government.

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CON

George Halsey Perley (Minister Without Portfolio)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

A committee was appointed but we have implemented the recommendations of that committee with legislation, and our action has been criticized on the other side. There is not an hon. member who has said he will not support the bill.

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June 24, 1935