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
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.