July 22, 1946

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

By order in council. It has been working very well.. The government has not yet had to buy a house and probably never will. The cost limitation, which is a condition of entering the agreement, has been very valuable to the veteran who is the purchaser of the house.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

I have never had a great deal of criticism of wartime housing or national housing. I think it would be wrong in principle to get away from the established practice the government has followed in handling housing under the national housing plan. As far as I know, the houses built under that plan were well built. I have not a great deal to say in regard to the wartime houses built by the Department of Reconstruction, mainly because I- have not taken as much interest in them as I took in the veterans houses, which were very poorly built indeed, and we shall have more to say on that subject when those estimates come down.

I criticized the houses built under the Veterans Land Act. My criticism was that they were being hastily constructed, and poorly constructed; and later that proved to be the fact. I want to tell the minister that just before returning to Ottawa the last time I was home, about two months ago, I went to see the wartime houses being built down by the railroad track in Calgary. Those houses were being prefabricated. I forget the name of the company building, them; I have it up in my office, but no doubt the minister will know who I mean, because I think it is the only company building wartime houses in Calgary. I went down to where they were doing this prefabrication, and I noticed one difference between the material used in the construction of those houses and the material used for the veterans houses. There was no comparison. In the veterans houses the lumber was exceedingly green; in some cases I think the leaves were still on it. The material I saw going into the wartime houses, however, was quite dry, and I think that was a great improvement. I saw them prefabricating the upstairs inside partitions, which were made with two by threes. I do not know why they used that size lumber; I am sure the specifications called for it or the contractor would not be using it. I think that is a little weak for that kind of construction. The minister may have a different idea, but I should not think an inside partition of two-by-three studding would carry plaster substantially; at any rate I have my doubts.

The other point I wanted to bring to his attention was that these were being joined with three-inch nails. The minister knows how these forms are constructed. They are laid flat on the floor; the studs are put in and the plate is put on, with the nails driven through the plate. As I stood there watching, I saw these three-inch nails being used, and in the first place I believe those nails are too small. I was doubtful as to whether or not the frames would stand much, moving, because the two nails through the plate into the end of the studding were almost touching each other, which in effect meant that you had only one nail in the plate. I was dubious about that, so I walked over to where they had a number of these frames piled up, to see if that was just a mistake in that one instance or whether it happened in other cases. I found that a number of these frames had already pulled apart. They had not been transported, except to be carried from the platform to the pile; and unless a great deal of caution was taken in moving them by

Housing Act

truck or however they were taken to the point of use, I am afraid the minister is going to be in for a great deal of difficulty.

Then I want to say that when I was looking over this work I could not find the man in charge, though I asked several of the fellows working there where the foreman was. I think this was also the cause of a great deal of trouble in connection with the veterans houses. There was no foreman at all. He may have been around the pile somewhere, but I was there for at least three-quarters of an hour and could not find him. I believe there was not competent inspection in connection with the veterans' houses, and I think that was the reason for a great deal of the trouble experienced at that time. When that matter comes up again I tlhink I may be able to show more clearly that this is so, and I would suggest to the minister that more caution should be exercised in connection with the construction of these houses, otherwise he is going to have a great deal of trouble later on.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. PEARKES:

I should like to offer a few observations regarding section 5, the section dealing with the new policy of lending directly to operators in the lumbering and mining industries in out-of-the-way places, and to ask for a little more information. I am convinced from what I have seen that one of the great difficulties has been a shortage of labour in the woods, and in many cases that has been so because the men have been unwilling to go into the woods and leave their families in the cities. If houses can be built nearer the mills and in the logging areas where, there will be a sustained yield for a number of years, I am quite certain production can be increased. Up to now the difficulty has been that none of the housing schemes has been considered by the operators to be sufficiently flexible; in fact they say they have been required to put too much of their available capital into the building of houses. I should like to observe that the operators have been put to heavy expense recently in order to develop their industry. It requires a great deal of capital to build the railways and roads up the mountainside, to purchase modern equipment and to build the new mills which have been constructed at many points. They have not a great deal of capital left. So I hope that when these loans are to be made the department will take into consideration the fact that the loans must cover a large proportion of the amount which will be invested. Before any houses can be built, sites have to be cleared; perhaps drainage must be put in, and water and sometimes light brought to

the area. So that there is a good deal of outlay on the part of the borrower before he can actually begin to build1 houses. I do not believe the houses themselves will be a heavy item of expense in the development of these particular schemes. I wonder if the minister could give us a little more information with regard to what percentage will be lent; what interest will have to be paid; whether these houses will be reserved onjy for veterans or whether any employee may occupy them; whether they will be transferable from a rental basis to a purchase basis later on, and so on. Many of the employees would prefer to rent houses for a while and perhaps eventually buy them when they found themselves settled in the particular area. These are some of the points on which I would ask the minister to be kind enough to give us a little further information.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

From the remarks of my hon. friend I assume that he is in agreement with the objective mentioned in the resolution. It would be difficult to deal with the provisions of the bill itself, which his questions cover, until the bill is brought down. The resolution simply deals with the objectives of the legislation. If the resolution is carried the bill will be distributed immediately, and it will be much easier for my hon. friend and much easier for me if we discuss the provisions of the bill when all members have it before them.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

There is one bit of information I should like to get which I may not be able to ask under any clause of the bill. The minister has referred on numerous occasions to prefabricated houses and I wish to know if the prices of these houses are checked and approved before they are offered for sale to veterans and, if so, by whom?

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

If a manufacturer of prefabricated houses desires priority assistance, as most of them do, the project is examined in detail, the prices to be charged are considered, and the recommendation for priority contains the information which must be satisfactory to the officers of the department. However, this does not prevent anyone who wishes to manufacture prefabricated houses without priority assistance from doing so.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

I can give one specific instance, although I shall not mention the name of the firm which has enlarged its output of prefabricated houses. A four-roomed unit measuring approximately twenty-six feet by twenty-seven feet six inches, with a flat roof, is being offered at approximately $5,400. Yet-

Housing Act

erans are looking at these houses but they must have $1,400 as a down payment. I was just wondering whether these selling prices are checked, because this seems to be a lot of money for a flat-roofed four-roomed cottage with no architecture to it at all.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

As I say, any company desiring priority assistance would have the f.o.b. factory price checked. Of course, after the cost of foundation and the cost of the land are added to the factory price, the total cost might run up to $5,400. I do not know of any prefabricated unit that sells f.o.b. factory at anything like that price; the price is usually somewhere around $3,000.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

The hon. member for

Bow River endeavoured to-night to repeat certain allegations which he made in this house on March 28 with regard to certain houses in Calgary.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

On a point of order, if

we are going to discuss the Veterans Land Act I want to know it. I have no objection to the minister carrying on this discussion, but I want to know what is going to happen.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

I did not bring it up; my hon. friend brought it up. I want to say that I have abundant evidence from the settlers themselves of their complete satisfaction with these houses. I have an official letter from the city engineer of Calgary justifying these houses. This evidence disproves in their entirety the remarks made by the hon. member for Bow River.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

That was never disproved in the committee. I shall be only too pleased to have this discussed and I hope the minister brings his evidence before the committee.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

I challenge my hon.

friend to bring his evidence before the veterans affairs committee.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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PC

Percy Chapman Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

It is not my intention to delay the committee at this stage, although this matter is the subject of considerable concern to the people in my constituency and to the people of Nova Scotia. I am at some disadvantage in entering into this discussion at this time because, owing to train connections coming to Ottawa from Nova Scotia, I was not able to be here during the early part of the discussion. There is a feeling in my constituency and in Nova Scotia that we are being discriminated against in connection with the securing of materials to complete the construction of such buildings as have been started. Certain materials have

been available, but others have not and the whole operation has been held up. There is a great deal of disappointment among the people, notably the returned men. I should like to put on record a telegram which I received a few days ago from the president of the Canadian Legion, branch No. 10, Amherst, Nova Scotia. This telegram, which is addressed to me, reads:

At a regular executive meeting of this organization the deplorable housing conditions of this town were discussed. I was instructed to contact you and ask you to intercede for us on this urgent matter. At this moment we have over forty veterans in desperate need of housing facilities immediately. Wartime Housing informs us that their facilities have been completely exhausted and that no further assistance will be forthcoming this year unless new houses are constructed. We ask that immediate action be taken by the government.

J. Lome McLellan, president,

Canadian Legion, branch No. 10.

I could follow that up and give more detailed information with respect to conditions in my constituency, but I shall not do so at the present time. However, I want to point out that the citizens generally and the returned men in particular are interested in the resolution which is before the house at the present time. I hope that as a result of the passing of this resolution, material will be in greater supply and that the present needs in all parts of Canada, particularly in the parts to which I have referred, can be met and the situation relieved. I shall not say any more than to point out that the situation is urgent and the need is great. These people are very deserving and they should have all the assistance possible in order that they may secure housing.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I suggest to my hon. friend

that he is putting in his complaint at the wrong end. Before we can build wartime housing we must have a request from the city in question. I am quite certain that no request has been received for wartime housing from the city of Amherst.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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PC

Percy Chapman Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

I have on my file a copy of a letter dated April 11, 1946, from the town clerk of Amherst to the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply. It reads:

At the last regular meeting of the town council held on April 8, 1946, the urgent need for additional houses for the town of Amherst was under discussion. Our present wartime houses are being taken up by service personnel and at March 31 they had fifty applications on their waiting list, further to this we have a new industry opening in Amherst that will employ some eighty-five men and they already have applications in for eight houses and the Standard Chemical Company, who are opening a salt mine in Nappan, anticipate some two hundred employees w'ithin the next year and have already asked for ten houses immediately.

Housing Act

In consideration of this situation we urgently request that one hundred prefabricated houses be erected in Amherst at the earliest possible date. Sites are now available for these houses.

We would appreciate you directing this application to the proper departments.

Yours very truly,

V. G. Fuller, town clerk.

I took the matter up and could not get an undertaking that Wartime Housing Limited was in a position to respond to the request. I do not take the minister to task for not being familiar with these applications, but he is in error because there has been a direct application from the town of Amherst to the minister himself personally for additional housing in the town of Amherst.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

There is at the present time quite a shortage of cement in Saskatchewan. Inquiry was made in the old country to find out if it would be possible to ship cement from there through the Hudson bay port of Churchill during the summer season. The minister told us last year that the port was open for only a couple of months, so that any shipment would have to be hurried. The reply from the old country was that they had been informed by the authorities that all requirements for cement in Canada had been adequately provided for by Canadian manufacturers. If that is correct, why cannot we get cement? I know the government is austere in its wartime housing building and thinks basements are frivolous, but there are still a lot of old-fashioned people who like basements and need cement to build them. In one village in Saskatchewan I know of a church, a store, and two or three houses which have the basements dug and are held up because they cannot get cement. Are Canadian manufacturers manufacturing all the cement that is required in Canada, or has Lord Beaverbrook forgotten Canada?

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The production of cement is slightly out of step owing to the concentrated demand in the early months of the summer. But in another month or two there should be plenty of cement. At the moment there are shortages. Nevertheless the production of cement is far higher to-day than at any time in our history. I suggest that before my hon. friend buys cement from the old country and ships it through Hudson bay he ascertain what the price is in the old country. It would stagger him compared with the price in Saskatchewan.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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CCF

Eric Bowness McKay

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

Mr. McKAY:

There is a heavy demand to-day for small homes, particularly for veterans. Is there any ceiling on the amount of materials that an individual may use in the construction of a private dwelling? Travel-

ling in the east, I have noticed in the west end of Montreal houses being built that I would classify as mansions. Is there a ban on homes of ten or fifteen rooms being constructed at the present time? If there is, where are these people getting the materials? Is there such a thing as a black market? I believe that in the United Kingdom there is a ceiling in the vicinity of $7,000 in order to ensure that building materials will be distri- [DOT] buted around and that veterans and others needing small homes will be provided for. Yet in Montreal I.saw these mansions being built; we see the construction of garages right in the city of Ottawa, and I believe recently a contract was let for the building of a theatre. That sort of thing is inexcusable when veterans are going without homes, and there are scores of them right here in Ottawa who are still looking for homes. I would ask the minister to state if there is a ceiling on construction costs in house building, and if so, just how is it applied?

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

So far as I am aware, any man in this country can build anything he likes. There is no restriction on anyone.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
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July 22, 1946