February 2, 1937

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes. It will be observed that if the lending institution does not strictly enforce its rights, or grants extensions, this will have the effect of releasing the guarantee. Knowing what we do of lending institutions in connection with their every-day operations, we know perfectly well they will not take that chance. I suggest that principle is very important in making this measure effective.

It has been said so frequently it is not necessary to repeat that the legislation, in itself, is not new. Therefore it seems to me we should profit somewhat by the experience of other countries. It must be remembered, however, in dealing with matters of this kind, that Canada is a country entirely different from the great republic to the south of us, as will be found by those who have to administer the legislation-. It is undesirable to arouse too great expectations with respect to a matter of this sort, when it must be patent to even the superficial observer that the limitations of benefits are very apparent.

The twofold object which the commission, and through it the government, have in mind is, in the first place, the improvement of the homes of our people, and in the second place

Home Improvement Loans

-and perhaps this should be indicated first- employment on as large a scale as possible in useful and productive service. Whether we put one or the other first, it does not make any difference. For that purpose the country' is obligating itself to a maximum of $7,500,000, which is fifteen per cent of $50,000,000. Seven and a half million dollars is a substantial sum of money, and we run the risk of losing all or part of it. We would run a risk of losing very little of it if it were not that apparently we have agreed, although it is not so indicated, that the lending institution is to be regarded not as a series of branches, but as a whole. A lending institution having two hundred branches each of which advances $5,000 will have $1,000,000 lent out. Fifteen per cent of that is $150,000, which the country would have to pay. I am not quite sure if that is sound finance, but it is exactly what the bill means, in view of the answer given the other day.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

No, not in the case of two hundred institutions.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Two hundred branches, I said, each one advancing an average of $5,000.

There is a vital factor in that connection affecting the success or failure of the whole plan. I make my submission not in a critical sense, because I desire that any suggestions I may make may be helpful. My experience has taught me that when one is dealing with a question of a guarantee and with branches being in a position to make advances, one must keep in mind, first, that the law of guarantee is very strict and, second, that the sum of the losses in all the many branches through which the lending companies may make advances may place upon the country a burden which would be avoided if each was made responsible for its own fifteen per cent.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Sanderson in the chair. On section 1-Short title.


CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Is there any clause in the bill referring to the wages the workmen are to be paid while carrying out repairs to buildings indicated in the measure?

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

No clause in the bill deals with that particular subject. Fair wages legislation of the dominion parliament does not affect work done through private contracts. It extends only to public works and public contracts. Therefore the matter of wages paid to those who will be employed on the

improvement of homes will be for the determination of the authorities in the provinces where the work is being done.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Regulations as to wages will come under provincial legislation?

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Yes.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Can the minister impose any restriction in connection with the use of moneys obtained under a loan? For instance, we know of houses which, although being lived in, are unfit for human habitation and should be condemned and demolished. Under this measure the owner of such a house could apply for a loan, repair the house and put it into a state of repair sufficient for certain purposes. However, even after the repairs were made the house would not be fit for human habitation. Is any machinery set up whereby a person would be prevented from obtaining money to repair a house in a condition such as I have described?

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The question is important and indicates one of the difficulties faced by the federal government when it attempts to assist in fields certain phases of which are under other jurisdiction. As the hon. member is aware, the duty of condemning a dwelling house as being unfit for human habitation is a provincial matter. The power is generally conferred by the provinces upon the municipalities. Through legislation of the kind before us we can have only a very ibroad and somewhat distant connection with the problem. Through the lending institutions we can attempt to indicate that it is not the policy of the government to make loans to place slum dwellings in the condition described by the hon. member. I submit, however, that the federal authority cannot enter into an argument as to whether a dwelling is or is not habitable or suitable for human occupation. The determining authority in such instances would be not ourselves but the local authority, usually the municipality.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Donald Alexander McNiven

Liberal

Mr. McNIVEN:

I should like further information on the question asked by the hon. member for Davenport, namely with regard to wages of workmen employed. The object of the bill is to increase employment, but I anticipate that in so doing it is the intention not merely to create a job but to bring about a condition of affairs which will assist workmen in reestablishing themselves. Therefore it seems to me that in guaranteeing the payment of certain moneys parliament has a responsibility toward the men who are to do the work. The dominion government has recognized this principle by incorporating a fair wage clause in every contract given out

Home Improvement Loans

by the government. We are using the public credit to guarantee certain expenditures and it seems to me we could well take steps to ensure that the expenditure of that money will assist in reestablishing these men instead of giving them merely a few days work. It will be little satisfaction to this parliament and to the public at large if, after a summer's work, these carpenters, plumbers, steam-fitters, painters, decorators, and other artisans have to go immediately on relief. If such a thing were to occur, then this parliament would be losing both coming and going.

The borrower must make an application to the bank. Could there not be incorporated in that application an undertaking that he will pay the going rate of wages to the various trades employed? There are still many chisellers around who delight in preying upon the unprotected artisan, and I think we have a responsibility in that connection.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Mr. Chairman, the question just raised by the hon. member for Regina (Mr. McNiven), and previously by the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol), has been before the Department of Labour for consideration. It is quite true that in addition to laying down scales of wages for public works, the Department of Labour has followed the practice of inserting a fair wage clause in government contracts. I am sure my hon. friend is aware that that fair wage clause provides only for the payment of the going wages in the locality where the work is being done. We have never attempted to lay down a definite scale of wages apart from public works and public contracts. In other words, the determination of the wages is a matter of local usage or is decided by local authorities, as in a number of provinces where labour codes prevail. I am bound to say that we have had suggestions that we should move in the contrary direction. It has been suggested that in certain localities the wages paid to some classes of labour in the building trades are abnormally high, and that this fact has tended to discourage building operations. I would doubt the wisdom of inserting in this bill a clause which would mean an extension of the fair wages policy of the government beyond public works and public contracts. Hitherto we have never gone beyond public works or public works' contracts. I think I might add this further observation. Provision has been made for setting up advisory committees in every province and in every large city and town. Labour will be represented upon these committees, and it does seem to me that the proper means of securing what my hon. friend has in mind would be for such committees to

TMr. McNiven.]

bring their influence to bear upon the local authority to see that fair wages were paid for this particular type of work.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Mr. Chairman, I think there is a great deal of merit in the suggestion made by the hon. member for Regina (Mr. McNiven). The solution he offers is simple and effective. When the borrower applies for a loan, which he undoubtedly will do by filling out some form, he should give the undertaking suggested by the hon. member. That is a reasonable provision to make in cases of this kind and it provides the necessary safeguard. The minister's statement with reference to wages paid on public works is correct if he has in mind only common labour, but it is not complete in all its details. Each year the Department of Labour determines upon a scale of wages for the skilled trades in the different areas. It thereby sets the rates of wages. Those rates are sent to the Department of Public Works and the schedule is posted on the works being carried on. The different contractors agree to pay the rates of wages specified therein. These rates are made part of the specifications and the department not only undertakes to see that the going rates of wages are paid in the case of ordinary labour, but enters into the field of fixing and determining the rates for the skilled trades.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Based upon the prevailing

wages in the locality.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

I do not know what the basis is, but it is determined by the Department of Labour. They do not leave it at that; they say that so much per hour or so much per day is the schedule of wages which shall apply to this work in the area concerned. That schedule is posted on the work for the information of the employees.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CON

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROOKS:

A few days ago when this bill was being discussed an hon. member asked a question with reference to improvements on farm buildings. At that time I understood the minister to say that the terms of this bill would apply to outbuildings such as bams and so on, as well as to houses on farms. I cannot find anything in the bill to lead me to believe that these buildings are included. Yesterday I received a pamphlet from the National Employment Commission, issued under the authority of the dominion government. I assume all hon. members received copies of this. In one section it states:

Loans are to be made solely for the purpose of making repairs, alterations and additions (including built-in equipment) to either rural or urban dwellings. The proceeds of such loans can be used for no other purpose than the above.

Home Improvement Loans

It will be noted that the purpose stated is sufficiently broad to include repairs or altera-the house, or improvements or additions to the house. It would also include an attached or detached garage on the same property.

But there is nothing to indicate that the farmer's barn, hog pen or other buildings is included. The farmer has had just as hard a time as the city dweller; his buildings are very necessary to his livelihood, and I think such buildings should be included, in a scheme of this kind.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

I tried to get the floor two or three times, but others caught the eye of the chairman. This is a very important point, and it is something this house and this government should keep in mind continually, whether or not it can be incorporated in these agreements.

The Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) referred to the cost of policing in connection with these loans, and stated that the cost which would be involved if such a fair wage clause were written into the agreements would

Home Improvement Loans

be very heavy. IVhen it comes to protecting the interests of the wage-earner we are always met with a reference to the cost and the difficulties involved. It is almost impossible to get authorities to act to protect the interests of the wage-earner. Some little time ago my attention was drawn to a city in this country in which two cases were brought before a magistrate. In the one case an unemployed man stole a small amount; at the moment I do not know whether it was money or goods. In the other an employer was brought into court for violation of the minimum wage act. In the first case the magistrate did not hesitate at all before imposing a term of imprisonment upon the unemployed man, pointing out that the community must be protected from an individual of this kind. When the violation of the minimum wage act came before him, however, he said that at a time like this employers could not be expected to pay any attention to minimum wage laws. That is something which cannot be overlooked by this or any other government.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

May I ask what possible relation that can have to the matter before the committee?

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

It has a relation in principle. The answer of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) was exceedingly unsatisfactory. He said that never before did we attempt to do anything except to insert a fair wage clause in public works contracts.

Topic:   HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS
Subtopic:   PROVISION TO ENCOURAGE REPAIR OF RURAL AND URBAN DWELLINGS
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February 2, 1937