April 12, 1945

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I agree with my hon. friend that there is a serious shortage of houses. The department has been giving attention to it. We have made the manufacture qf building materials a first priority. We have laid out a programme to provide material for at least 35,000 houses; and if we can increase the figure to 50,000 we shall do so. We shall attempt to direct the material to the areas which need it most. It is true, I believe, that in the cases of Brantford and Windsor I said that if arrangements could be made by the builders to organize themselves so that we could order in fairly sizable lots, I would direct material there for a certain specified number of houses. I would be very glad to extend that offer to Peterborough and to any other centre.

The difficulty about routing material into a point for the building of houses is to concentrate such operation. A contractor may build six or eight houses in a season, and there may be a great many contractors who are in the habit of buying in small lots retail from hardware stores. It is hard to serve that sort of trade by directing material; but if the builders in the hon. member's area could be induced to club together and buy in lots of material for fifty houses, that could be handled more easily.

We are most anxious to do everything we can to facilitate the construction of houses where they are most needed. The one thing we cannot manufacture is men, and manpower is the root of all the difficulty in housing. Men are needed to man the brickyards and the malleable iron foundries. We are short of brick and soil pipe because we are short of men to work in the various parts of manufacture which are the backlog of home building. Then, of course, there is a shortage of men to do the actual work in the field. This is a situation not peculiar to Canada. Britain, where so many houses have been destroyed, has a far, far worse situation than ours. There is some improvement here in conditions; we have built more houses in each of the last two or three years

830 COMMONS

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply

than were built in any pre-war year, but we have to do very much better than that to put our housing situation in shape. It is a difficult problem, and I ask the cooperation of every hon. member to try to organize matters in his district so that the department may be of the maximum help in meeting the problem.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

In Toronto, has not wartime housing put up brick houses?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

No.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Well, was there not an agreement with some society or builders' group in Toronto that they could have brick houses?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

There has been an arrangement in effect, I believe, for the last three or four years that if we could get applications for fifty houses we would give priority ratings on the materials for those fifty houses. That may be what my hon. friend refers to. The building of any house with brick in the city of Toronto is by private investment, not government operation. We are able, as I have said, to help the builder of fifty houses when it is physically impossible to help to the same degree the builder of six houses. It is just a matter of numbers. With a group of a hundred houses we could help matters more than with fifty houses.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

If

Peterborough or any of these other cities could say, "We want fifty houses", and if they got together on that basis, what would they do to claim the material?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Club together, get their

material lists, and tell us to whom to ship material. For instance, pick out dealers to handle each type of material and let us ship out carload lots of materials for fifty houses to one dealer who will serve these contracts.

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NAT
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yes.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

The construction control department would ease up on their permits so that they would go through for those houses?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

There is no difficulty about

permits. There may be a little delay, because we are absolutely swamped with permits this year. During the last month they have come in faster than the department can handle them; I think about a thousand a day are being received. However, we are putting on extra staff

and will cope with the situation shortly. I do-not think there is any difficulty about permits, up to the number we think we can build this year. My hon. friend will appreciate that we do not want the permits to get too far ahead of the building materials; otherwise people are put to extra expense for no useful purpose.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

I

realize that, and the permit offices have been very kind to me. I think they have put through all the permits we have asked for.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

You are very fortunate.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yours is a distressed housing area, and we do favour those areas.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Yes,

it is. Before I sit down I should like to ask the minister a question arising out of a return I received to-day, in reference to trucks, particularly six-wheel trucks. These trucks are particularly suitable for snow removal, and I should like to know whether they were sold to municipalities. That is not shown here; it shows trucks sold to Defence Industries Limited and other industrial concerns, and to two towns. Do you try to have those trucks go to municipalities? Perhaps this question should come up in connection with the War Assets Corporation.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Is my hon. friend referring t-o-used trucks?

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Yes,

they are used trucks.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I am not sure, but I think the vehicles controller tries to put them into the hands of those who need them most. I believe municipalities rank highest on the list, with the exception of provinces. We try to distribute them fairly evenly across Canada, so that they are not all sold in one locality.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

There was quite a demand for these trucks this year, on account of the heavy snowfall.

I should like to ask one other question in regard to new motor cars that have been in storage. I ask the question because a month or so ago I was in the basement of a large dealer in motor cars, where a number of new automobiles were stored. They were packed in bumper to bumper. I opened the only car door that could be opened, and my nostrils were greeted with a very musty smell. Are these cars checked by your department to see that the upholstery, in particular, is not allowed to deteriorate? I am afraid that will happen in some of these places unless they are checked.

__________War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The few cars we have are

stored with dealers; that is about the only place we can store them. If there is deterioration while they are in the hands of the dealer, that is a matter for the dealer. They must 'be delivered as new cars, and any mouldy upholstery must be replaced. I do not think we can inspect the storage places. The dealers are charged with the care of these cars, and I think it is up to the dealers to look after them.

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April 12, 1945