Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Munitions and Supply):
Mr. Speaker, I promised to make a statement to-day on the oil situation, and I will do so now.
On May 20, as reported in Hansard, page 2845, in reply to a question by the hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth) I stated that no fuel oil would be available for heating in private residences during the coming winter. On the following day I amplified this statement somewhat, by indicating that every effort would be made to provide fuel oil for heating purposes in private homes where conversion to coal burning equipment was impossible. Since that time we have given very thorough study to the problem, in an effort to determine a definite line of policy, in the light of existing and prospective supplies of oil.
There are many thousand private residences now heated by oil. We find that conversion op a large scale would involve the use of materials, particularly steel, which are in very short supply. There is the further difficulty of transporting coal in sufficient quantities to ensure that the converted units will have sufficient fuel to see them through the winter. Consequently, we have had to explore ways and means of making available more supplies of fuel oil from existing and prospective supplies of crude.
There is no reasonable hope that we can augment our existing supply of crude oil. Therefore if we are to refine more fuel oil we must do so at the expense of automobile gasoline. Accordingly, refiners of crude oil have been ordered to change their refinery runs so as to make more fuel oil, and less gasoline. By doing this, we hope to build up sufficient stocks of fuel oil between now and October first to provide for household heating equipment during the winter months. It must be understood, however, that even after these
steps have been taken, no guarantee can be given that fuel oil for domestic heating equipment will be available to meet normal requirements, because it is impossible to say at this time whether sufficient tankers will be available to maintain a continuous supply of crude. If there is a decrease in the anticipated supply through a loss of tankers, we shall have to draw on these reserves of fuel oil to take care of the armed services and war and essential industries. Therefore, my advice to those who heat their houses by oil is to convert their equipment if at all possible. Those who are in a position to convert, and do not do so, run the risk of having no fuel in the coming winter.
In so far as the commercial and industrial user is concerned, it will still be necessary for all those using fuel oil for the heating of commercial and industrial buildings, including apartment houses, hotels, institutions, stores, et cetera, to give up the use of fuel oil for heating as of July 31, 1942. This also applies to all those using fuel oil for the production of steam.
As I have pointed out, the building up of reserves of fuel oil for the winter months means the refining of less automobile gasoline. Accordingly, it has been decided that in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, the value of the unit must be cut from five gallons to four. The unit will remain for the present at five gallons in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and at two gallons in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We hope to be in a position to raise the unit to three gallons in the maritimes as of midnight June 30. The changes in the value of the unit in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia will become effective at midnight to-morrow night.
After the ration system had been in operation for a short time the gravity of the supply situation made it necessary to re-categorize many thousands of those who were originally placed in higher than A categories. Many of these were reduced to category A. We also found that many of those originally in category A were owners of more than one car, or were using their cars almost entirely for pleasure purposes. It is obvious that these motorists should not receive as much gasoline as those who use their cars mainly in the earning of their livelihood. It has therefore been decided to establish a lower category, to be known as category A-A. The setting up of a new category takes time and I am not now in a position to state what the gasoline allowance for category A-A will be, or when it will become effective. This will be announced in due course.
Mobilization Act-Speaker's Ruling
Because there are many thousands of farmers, industrial workers and business men now in category A, the quarterly restriction of the coupon in this category will be abolished from midnight to-night. This means that the category A coupons, in any quarter, may be used at any time, regardless of the date printed on them.
Subtopic: CONDITIONS WITH RESPECT TO HOUSEHOLD
Sub-subtopic: HEATING-REDUCTION IN VALUE OF GASOLINE RATION COUPONS IN CERTAIN PROVINCES