May I ask the Minister of Trade and Commerce whether he has any statement to make on the progress of negotiations for a wheat agreement with Great Britain? There was something over the air this morning concerning the matter.
On the orders of the day:
Hon. J. A. MacKINNON (Minister of Trade and Commerce):
I hope to have an announcement within the next forty-eight hours.
TRAVEL ABROAD PASSPORTS TO EUROPE-CONDITIONS AFFECTING RETURN JOURNEY
On the orders of the day:
Mr. G. K. FRASER (Peterborough West):
I should like to ask a question of the Minister of Mines and Resources. Some months ago there was a ruling that every woman applying for a passport to travel to Europe had to say that she would not return for a period of at least a year. The Prime Minister made a statement in the house and said that the ruling was off; but during the past week an applicant for a passport for travel across the Atlantic or Pacific, whether man or woman, has to fill in a form which states this:
I fully realize the difficulty in obtaining Atlantic and Pacific transportation and that it is unlikely that I shall be able to return to Canada for many months.
I recognize that the issuance of a passport to me does not obligate the government of Canada to undertake any responsibility with regard to my transportation either from or to Canada.
I wish to know from the minister why such a statement is required before one can get a passport. The information should be made public, because members are receiving letters on the subject.
Hon. J. A. GLEN (Minister of Mines and Resources):
The hon. gentleman is referring, I assume, to the period when exit permits were required. At that time there was no possible chance of anyone travelling from Canada to Europe being able to get back in the same year; therefore in view of the shipping situation an undertaking was given by those who did go that they did not expect to return for a certain time. I have no knowledge of a ruling of the passport office such as has been cited, but I assume the same idea is behind the requirement, that anyone
going now cannot expect to get priority on return sailings. However, I will look into the matter.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE INQUIRY AS TO QUESTION DROPPED FROM ORDER PAPER
On the orders of the day:
I notice that the question asked on Thursday by the hon. member for Yorkton regarding "war assets-sales over $4,000 to firms, corporations or individuals", which was ordered to stand, did not appear on the order paper on Friday and is not on the order paper to-day. I respectfully draw that to your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and hope that you will draw His Honour the Speaker's attention to the matter, so that we may receive an early explanation.
Subtopic: INQUIRY AS TO QUESTION DROPPED FROM ORDER PAPER
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:
I can assure the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar that Mr. Speaker has this matter under advisement. He is expected to return to Ottawa to-morrow, when I shall be pleased to bring the matter to his attention.
Subtopic: INQUIRY AS TO QUESTION DROPPED FROM ORDER PAPER
NATIONAL HOUSING ACT AMENDMENT AS TO LOAN PROVISIONS-CENTRAL MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION
Right Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution: That it is expedient to present a measure to amend the National Housing Act, 1944, and more particularly: (1) to provide for changes in the administration of the existing housing legislation, consequent rewording of definitions and references throughout the Act; (2) to provide for His Majesty to join with approved lending institutions in the making of loans for the construction of homes for home owners who have a leasehold interest only in the land upon which the home is to be built and to take security in such form as may be deemed necessary to protect the interest of His Majesty and the lending institution; _ (3) to lengthen the period within which a joint loan to home owners may be repaid from twenty years to twenty-five years; (4) to authorize Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation on behalf of His Majesty to enter into agreements with builders who "will undertake to build a specified number of houses to be financed under the National Housing Act, 1944, and to offer each such house for sale first to veterans and then to others at a price not in excess of the selling price fixed in the agreement in consideration for the undertaking of Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation to purchase such houses from the builders within one year from their completion if they have not been sold; (5) to authorize Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation to make direct loans in outlying areas to borrowers engaged in mining or lumbering, to assist them to provide low or moderate-cost housing for rent or sale to their employees and others in the area of the operations of the borrowers with a view to making possible increased employment in connection with the said operations; _ (6) to authorize Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation to hold, operate and manage and lease on terms satisfactory to the minister, real or personal property owned by His Majesty and made available to the corporation for such purpose, and to authorize the corporation to collect the revenues from such properties and to pay such revenues to the minister, less expenses incurred in connection with such properties and less such compensation to Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation as may be agreed upon by the minister; (7) to provide greater facility for the making of joint loans for the construction on farms. He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this legislation is to introduce certain amendments to the National Housing Act, 1944. The aim of these amendments is to make the National Housing Act as effective legislation as possible. The changes are suggested in the light of experience gained in administering the act under present economic and social conditions. The amendments are also necessitated by the transfer of the administration of the National Housing Act from the Minister of Finance to the Central Mortgage and Housing corporation. ' This occasion, I believe, calls for a comprehensive statement on housing conditions in Canada and the principles that underlie the housing policy of the dominion government. The housing problem during the first few years following Y-J day is an emergency problem resulting from almost six years of war and the low level of house-building in the years prior to the war. The immediate task, therefore, is to increase the supply of shelter with the replacement and improvement of existing housing being deferred until the immediate housing emergency has been overcome. Overcrowding existed before the war and so did slums. The need for concentrating all available resources, manpower, industrial capacity and natural resources to the prosecution of the war made it necessary to postpone to the years of peace any large scale measures to alleviate these conditions. Before proceeding to analyse our present housing situation and to indicate the goals which we have set ourselves, I would like to review some of the background for hon. members. The largest number of houses built during the inter-war years was in 1928, when some 50,200 units were built in urban areas alone. But five years later this number was down to some 14,000 units. The average num- Housing Act
ber of houses built in urban areas in Canada during the years 1924-1939 was 32,000. This house-building activity was below that of the United States and England and Wales. If adjustments are made for differences in population, a comparable figure for the United States during the same period would be 42,000 units and for England and Wales, 63,000. The lack of new houses in the thirties, the migration of munition workers to cities and towns during the war, an increased rate of family formation since 1939, and the impropriety of diverting labour and materials from the prosecution of the war even for housing, are the reasons for the present aggravated shortage of housing now. During the first few war years, increased individual incomes had caused sufficient undoubling to do away with vacancies, despite large numbers of men enlisting in the armed forces reducing the number of families requiring separate premises. What has happened since then is familiar to all of us. Greatly increased personal incomes have reduced even further voluntary multiple occupancy. House building was at a relatively low level owing to the need for materials for essential war purposes. It was not until 1944 that there was an appreciable number of houses built. Then came demobilization with the very real need for dwellings for veterans who were reunited with their families. Already a need for housing units was being occasioned by the arrival of war brides in Canada. The continued high level of individual incomes was providing extra demands for housing. There was a continuation of the very high marriage rate with the result that net family formation was about twice that of 1939. This, generally, was our position on Y-E day, when we set a target of 50,000 housing units for the first full construction year after V-E day. Considering our needs for manpower and materials required for the prosecution of the war and the partial reconversion of industry, the target set was a formidable one for the house-building industry which had been accustomed to an average annual construction of about 32,000 units. The early conclusion of the war in the Pacific made it possible to aim at the completion of 50,000 units during the first year following V-E day, that is, from May, 1945 to May, 1946, instead of the first full construction year which would have been the calendar year 1946. According to a survey made by the dominion bureau of statistics, some 47,000 units were completed during the calendar year 1945. Present indications are that during the'first year following V-E day we have substantially met the target of 50,000 units. This has been a creditable performance by the house-building industry. As at March, 1946, our minimum immediate housing needs were estimated at 150,000 housing units. This figure is equal to the number of houses which under normal conditions would have been built during the war years to keep up with the increase in the number of families. It does not take account of our needs for the replacement of substandard homes, a certain amount of overcrowding that existed before the war and a desirable vacancy rate. This figure is supported by the results of a survey on doubling-up undertaken by the dominion bureau of statistics in the spring of this year. This survey showed some 210,000 single housing units occupied by more than one family. There is some voluntary doubling-up, and the figure of 150,000 units suggested represents the minimum number required to meet our immediate shelter problem. Starting with an immediate deficit of 150,000 units in the spring of 1946, we must add 15.000 units for the needs created by men to be discharged and repatriated from the armed services. We must also allow for an extra demand of some 15,000 units on account of 30.000 war brides, all of whom will have come to Canada before spring of 1947. Experience has shown that about half the war brides create a need for additional housing units. We must also take into account the very high marriage rate which continues to exist in Canada. It is estimated that in 1946 there will be some 105,000 marriages. Family dissolution continues at a rate of about 25,000. Net family formation is, therefore, taking place at the rate of about 80,000, of which perhaps 60 per cent creates a need for new family housing units. From these new requirements over the next year, we can subtract some 50,000-60,000 units completed during the year ending March, 1947. I believe that these figures and estimates, although approximate, are valid and that we can anticipate by spring, 1947, an immediate housing deficit of some 180,000 units, or a worsening of the situation by some 20 per cent. Steps are being taken to keep this deficit as low as possible, and I will refer to them later in my remarks. I should be remiss in my responsibilities if at this time I painted a happy picture in the housing field or suggested that immediate relief was in sight. I anticipate that a critical period will occur in the late fall of 1946, when some of the relief now afforded by the occupation of summer Housing Act residences will be lacking. Once again existing housing, particularly in urban areas, will be carrying the full impact of people returning to town. Already the sponge-like qualities of our urban areas are being taxed to the limit. Relief can come only from new housing units completed during the year. What is a reasonable estimate of housing needs for the five years ending spring, 1952? Even over as short a period as five years, there are many contingencies and uncertainties which have an important bearing upon the estimate and indeed make any such estimate hazardous. The level of national income over the next five years will, perhaps, be a most important influence, not only on the probable level of new housing during that period, but also upon the need for new units. The rate of recognition of obsolescence and depreciation will be another important factor. The taste in housing of the average citizen will also have a bearing. The advisory committee on reconstruction in its report, commonly known as the Curtis report, indicated that the desirable housing programme for the first ten years following the conclusion of the war would be 700,000 units or 350,000 units for a five-year period. But this estimate does not take account of all the doubling-up which we are experiencing and a desirable vacancy rate needed to assure flexibility in our housing supply. If account of these additional factors is taken, we estimate that we should build some 480,000 units during the five years ending March, 1952. About 80,000 units should be built during 1947-1948 and 100,000 in each of the following years. While this appears to be a very substantial target for the house-building industry whose present capacity is perhaps only a little more than half, I submit that such a target can be accomplished if we make an all-out effort on the housing front. As I shall outline, the dominion government is creating conditions favourable to a large housing programme by private individuals and companies in Canada. While the dominion government will continue to give as much assistance as possible, both financial and physical, it is necessary for industry itself to increase its capacity to meet the housing needs of the country in the years to come. On April 29, the Prime Minister advised the house that centralization and coordination of our housing programme was to be accomplished by placing all matters relating to housing, with the exception of the strictly rural activities of the Veterans' Land Act, under the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply. The effect of this change transferred the functions of the Department of Finance in the housing field to the Department of Reconstruction and Supply. It also occasioned an arrangement between myself and my colleague, the Minister of Veterans Affairs-an arrangement. whereby new small holdings under the Veterans Land Act with any urban characteristics were cleared with my department. The purpose underlying this move was to bring within a unified operating group all dominion government participation in the field of housing. Since the Prime Minister's announcement, we have moved towards further coordination. The housing problem resolves itself definitely into two parts-the supply of building materials, and the mode of operations. With respect to supply, an executive committee on building materials is now active. It is .made up of the priorities officer, the coordinator of capital equipment and durable goods of the wartime prices and trade board, and the coordinator of housing. This committee is charged with the responsibility of coordinating with the building industry the increased supply of building materials, particularly those of a critical nature. They are busy on the reclamation of existing materials, as well as the coordination of priorities and controls. They are seeking to obtain the best use of the supply of building materials in the interest of housing as well as the industrial and commercial building required to maintain a high level of employment and income. In the field of operations the dominion's activities have been centralized in Central Mortgage and Housing corporation. In addition to administering the National Housing Act, the corporation is responsible for emergency sheLter and the home conversion plan. It also directs policy and activities of Wartime Housing Limited. These steps have been taken in order to create a unified operating group in the housing field. As such, it serves an immediately important purpose in that provinces, municipalities and individuals interested in housing will deal with one agency. In the same way, the activities of field representatives will be coordinated and they will be in a position to deal with provinces and municipalities and others. Already savings in personnel have been effected. It is not planned to amalgamate the personnel of Wartime Housing Limited with the Central Mortgage and Housing corporation immediately, but a coordination of policy and a single direction has now been accomplished. The changes do not alter the operation of the Veterans Land Act either in administration or policy, but they do coordinate the operation of the small holdings provision of that act in those areas Housing Act
in which Wartime Housing and the National Housing Act are active. These changes have assisted us in setting up an integrated administrative machinery which we believe will work well to administer the housing policy of the government. Just as plant capacity was strained to produce the implements required for war, so now, in the interest of speed in meeting housing targets, it will be necessary to strain all available capacity to produce adequate supplies of building materials. Operating of building materials industries under forced draft will mean the difference between the success or failure of the programme this year. Extra costs may foe involved in obtaining increased output and, if so, the government is prepared to consider meeting these costs. Where plant expansion is necessary to eliminate materials bottlenecks, the method used to stimulate expansion of war plants will be made available. In this connection, I referred on April 29 to an order in council which extends to March 31, 1948, the period during which proposed plant expansion must be undertaken or new equipment acquired under the provision of the "double depreciation" method of financially assisting Canadian industries in their reconversion programmes. The need for housing is so great that it is desirable that industrial projects should be limited to those which are urgent from the point of view of employment. The action referred to removes the possibility that industrial projects will be rushed forward to qualify for the double depreciation privilege. It is hoped that this will permit the postponement of some projects which involve extensive construction until the supply situation is less acute. Extension of the period for double depreciation is expected to have a salutary effect on residential construction. Double depreciation certificates do not carry any priorities with respect to building materials or equipment, and they do not in any way interfere with the power of the individual municipalities to issue or withhold at their discretion building permits to cover such work. This brings me to another important point. On April 1, I tabled a copy of order in council PjC. 1184, of March 27, which provided for municipal control of non-essential or industrial construction. Since then several municipalities have alleged that the government has tried to evade the issue on this score. I can assure hon. members that there was no intention of evading the issue. Rather it was looked upon as a logical approach to a complex problem. The government felt, and still feels, that municipal authorities are in a much better position to determine the essentiality of new construction in their own districts. In this connection I should point out that all areas are getting their share of building materials under equitable distribution methods administered by the wartime prices and trade board in the same manner as that in which all other scarce supplies are distributed in Canada. Quotas are calculated on purchases during the base period and all distribution, whether to large or small towns, is on that basis. In describing the supply situation on building materials, I can say that the first five months of 1946 showed a noteworthy performance on the part of the building materials industry. The extent to which the encouraging trend of increased production is affected, or will be affected, by prevailing conditions cannot be estimated at this time. If those conditions should continue for any lengthy period, with a consequent sharp effect on the supply of building materials, the housing programme in Canada would be set back to a degree, the gravity of which may only be appreciated in full during the coming winter. I should like to acknowledge with appreciation the valuable and untiring help of a special committee on materials formed by courtesy of the Canadian Construction association. This committee has made a series of recommendations and observations. Officials of my department have taken these recommendations, designed to increase the supply of building materials, and, where it is feasible to do so, have already taken direct action or are carrying on discussions designed to bring about an increase in supply. . I have a wholehearted appreciation of the task which is being assumed in Canada to-day by the building materials industry, and I should like to acknowledge publicly the appreciation which hon. members must feel toward this industry, which, on its own initiative, has generally succeeded in increasing its capacity. It is being asked to meet a housing target greater than the greatest house-building year on record, and is being asked to meet that objective under conditions not conducive to the attainment of record production. I feel that with certain exceptions, upon which we are concentrating, the industry is capable of accepting, and is prepared to accept, the task-and no one can have a warmer admiration than myself for the effort being directed toward the fulfilment of this task. The increased production of building materials, particularly those of a critical nature, spells the difference between success or failure of the housing programme. With the solution Housing Act of this problem, or with the maximum amount of relief capable of being given under existing conditions, the great proportion of other problems are in themselves brought closer to solution. In brief, the government is now taking steps to increase the production of building materials, especially those of a critical nature, to reclaim to the maximum extent materials in government buildings, to encourage the import of such materials as are essential to the housing programme and are unobtainable in Canada, and to seek to obtain the best use of the available supply of building materials in the interest of housing and such industrial and commercial projects as are required to assure a high level of employment and income. I am quoting the supply situation in terms of comparative percentages, since I believe that hon. members might find it simpler to appreciate the trend in the production of building materials. The supply of cement and cement products is moving steadily forward. Production volume is the highest since 1931. Production of cement during January 1946 was 59 per cent in excess of the corresponding month of 1945 and was being produced at a per annum volume rate of approximately 9,000,000 barrels. By May 1946 the monthly production had again increased so as to raise the per annum volume to a figure somewhat over 10,000,000 barrels. Cement products were following a proportionate trend as instanced by concrete blocks, cement drain pipe, sewer pipe, water pipe and culvert tile. Clay products are following an encouraging trend in regard to brick and structural tile. January 1946 saw an increase in the production of building brick of 73 per cent over the corresponding month of 1945. April 1946 shows a 100 per cent increase over January 1945. The month of May has continued this upward trend and itself shows a 50 per cent increase over the preceding month of April. Quite naturally this is a seasonal increase, but a 50 per cent production increase in one month is an encouraging position. The position with respect to vitrified sewer pipe and flue linings has not offered the same measure of encouragement but is being watched closely and given the fullest attention. Conversations are now going on to facilitate the reentry into production of a plant, the capacity of which should be capable of providing extensive relief to this situation. Production of flue linings showed increases during April 1946 but declined in May and measures are being taken to hold the prior increase. Production of vitrified sewer pipe for the months of April and May declined slightly, but is still measurably in advance of production in January and February of this year. Sand-lime brick production is also moving upward. Production in May 1946 shows a slight increase over April output but a 100 per cent increase over the 1945 monthly average. Rock wool products are being maintained although May production showed what is hoped to be a temporary decline only. Generally speaking, production is keeping pace with shipments although it will be realized that the ability to create any stockpile under existing circumstances is well-nigh impossible. This latter statement is one which I might make applicable to the entire supply situation in terms of building materials. Domestic disappearance under prevailing conditions precludes now, and for some time to come, any likelihood of a stock position being created. Granulated wool, bulk or loose wool, and industrial wool follow the same pattern of production as that described for rock wool batts. Gypsum products are generally maintaining or exceeding the production figures reached during the war-time years. Production of wall board in March 1946 reached a figure which, on per annum volume, is equal to the highest annual production of gypsum wall board ever attained. May production, however, has in itself shown a 12J per cent increase over that of March. The production of gypsum lath appears to be paralleling shipments, but has not yet permitted the creation of any significant stockpile position. The production of gypsum plaster is running steadily at a figure approximately 100 per cent higher than the 1944 average which is almost the highest year on record. The output of asphalt products is either being maintained or increased, and appears to be meeting the required shipping demands, although fluctuations occurred in the various products within the group. The monthly production rate of asphalt shingles in May exceeded the 1945 monthly average by 70 per cent. There have been steady increases in smooth surfaced and mineral surfaced rolls, while the production of tar and asphalt sheathings remains constant. The iron and steel industry has shown a substantially higher output of galvanized sheets and of steel pipes, tubes and fittings, and a slight improvement in the production of soil pipe and of nails. Taking these various items in more detail, I mention, first, cast-iron soil pipe and fittings. Production of cast-iron soil pipe and fittings has been mounting steadily, month after month, through 1945 Homing Act
and 1946. In the month of May 1946, the rate, when averaged over a yearly period, is 32 per cent above the 1945 average. There is every reason to believe that this upward trend will not only continue, but may show a sharper rise in the near future. The committee on materials has made recommendations designed toward the increase of soil pipe production. These recommendations are now actively under consideration and it is felt that their implementation should offer early relief to the supply situation, as it concerns soil pipe and fittings. Production of sheet steel is constant but limited to one mill on hot-rolled and one mill on cold-rolled, the product of the latter being largely applied to tin plate for food processing. Stocks of sheet steel have 'been declining steadily and the warehouses are practically denuded of both black and galvanized sheet. While the production of black steel sheeting declined during the month of April 1946, stocks at the end of that month were equivalent to more than two months' output at the current rate. At the same time, April production of galvanized steel sheeting increased considerably and stocks show a 50 per cent increase, although still not equivalent to more than a part of a month's production. The output of steel pipes, tubes and fittings almost doubled during the month of April, as contrasted with the month of March 1946, although May 1946 experienced a slight decline. The output on steel pipes, tubes and fittings represents a recovery on production from a sharp decline in March 1946. January of this year showed a very satisfactory upward trend and it had been hoped that the current production figure would show a return to the monthly output at the first of the year. Prevailing conditions may require a complete reassessment of this hope. Wrought iron pipes, tubes and fittings saw a January production more than double the December 1945 tonnage, which January figure approached the total production for the year 1944. February of this year saw a 30 per cent increase over the January figure. Production in March and April of 1946 has declined. The production of wire nails and spikes during the month of January 1946, was 23 per cent above the month of January 1945, and 10 per cent above the 1945 monthly average. Declining slightly in February and March of this year, it has now, in May 1946, exceeded the monthly output of the first part of the year. Our early estimates of steel production and imports were altered considerably by the steel strike in the United States, which, followed by the coal strike, resulted in a fuel shortage which caused a reduction in steel production to make coke available for domestic use. In the matter of plumbing and heating equipment, there is an encouraging trend in a forward direction. Production of lead pipe for water service has moved up sharply since the first of the year and showed better than a 600 per cent increase in March 1946 over January of this year. Most of this increase has been maintained in April and May. The production of copper tubing had moved steadily forward throughout the first four months of this year. This output, however, is necessarily subject to prevailing conditions and the effect of curtailment of production will inevitably be felt in the near future. Production of warm air furnaces is moving forward and is at present maintaining an average yearly production rate of some 44,500 units, which is 73 per cent above 1944 production, the latest annual figure available. Domestic heating boiler (both hot water and steam), is equalling all-time highs. Cast-iron radiation is being produced at an increasing rate since the first of this year and is now 30 per cent, above the 1944 average monthly production, the latest annual production figure available. The same remark might be applied in general to the production of hot water storage tanks (range boilers), and all types of hot water tank heaters. I shall speak now of the supply of electrical fixtures, or materials. As to wire, more properly known as non-metallic sheathed cable, the scarcity is founded on the shortage of cotton yarn which is used to cover the wire. This is a difficulty which has been known and which has been coped with from the outset, according to the best possible means. Consequently, our efforts have been devoted to a solution of the cotton yarn problem-yarn of a nature required to cover non-metallic sheathed cable. This involves diversion of cotton yarn from other electric wire but is being done-and has already resulted in 100 per cent May increase, over April, in the one re rin size on which production had lagged. Prevailing conditions with respect to copper and textiles production have affected a situation with respect to wire which should have been relieved considerably during the summer months and should have been overcome by Fall. Rubber coated double braided wire has shown a 77 per cent increase in production within the latter three months of 1946. Rigid galvanized steel conduit is in short supply owing to our dependence on imports from the United States in the manufacture of steel pipe. Conditions beyond our control have had a serious effect on the supply of those- Housing Act materials required. In support of galvanized steel conduit supply, some substitutions may be necessary. The possibility of doing this is now under investigation and a source of alternative supply is presently visualized. The production of switches, panels and receptacles moved steadily forward with each succeeding month through May 1946. The production of sanitary ware finds shipments following production closely, with stocks at a relatively low figure. Over-all production is fairly stable, but in so far as the smaller pieces are concerned, is usually subject to peaks and valleys. Emphasis on the production of a particular line of small ware in any one month usually produces an adverse effect in the production of another type. The production of bathtubs remains generally constant. The government has already instituted action to increase the supply of bathtubs, sinks, wash basins and toilets, and there is reason to believe that a substantial increase in the production of sanitary ware can be expected with the expansion of facilities. The installation of facilities, many of which must be built in Canada and others imported from the United States, may see the lapse of quite some time before the full effect of the new facilities is felt. Action has already been taken that is designed to increase the current 1946 estimated production by a figure somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 per cent. An additional supply factor offers the farther possibility of a substantial increase in that percentage figure. In the matter of window glass, Canada is, with one exception, dependent upon imports. This import figure, which has been running currently at a monthly average of 2,500,000 square feet or slightly better, moved upward to almost 3,500,000 square feet in the month of April 1946-although May showed a decline. The only Canadian producer of glass suffered fire damage in 1944 and did not resume production until December 1945. Export control of glass has been re-imposed and covers plate, window and sheet glass, and cutlet (broken glass), including ground glass. Every effort is being made to increase the importation of window glass from- the United Kingdom and from the United States, and at the same time, to bring forward as early as possible, exports from the European market, particularly Belgium. I am pleased to note that imports from Belgium, a traditional source of supply, are now scheduled, with appreciable amounts for delivery in July and August. The situation with respect to paints, varnishes and lacquers appears to find production and shipment running according to a fairly normal pattern. (The dollar value of its product has increased steadily, through 1946, by fifty per cent). There would appear to be reason for suggesting that this part of the building materials industry is in a position to cope with the proposed housing programme. The position with respect to builders' hardware has also been the subject of a special study. I have been advised that replies to the survey suggest Canadian manufacturing capacity is sufficient to take care of Canadian requirements for builders' hardware. The committee on materials suggests that it' is unnecessary to recommend any additional manufacturing capacity. There are certain factors limiting production. Each of these will be considered in full, either by my department or with the department of government primarily concerned. In the field of lumber and lumber products, production of sawn lumber in Canada during the month of April, 1946, amounted to roughly 283,000,000 feet board measure, which is 13 per cent below the March output of 324,000,000 feet board measure. May declined slightly. These figures represent 100 per cent production coverage for British Columbia and 56-65 per cent mill coverage in the remaining provinces. Regional reproduction through March to May showed a substantial improvement for Ontario and Quebec with a sharp decline in British Columbia production. The net effect of the production loss in British Columbia in terms of 1946 production still remains to be judged. Production of rigid insulating board (wood fibre) remains in line with demand with May production showing a 23 per cent increase over April. The production of panel board in May, 1946, shows a 30 per cent increase over the preceding month. The production of plaster base board shows a definite increase over the prior month. Roof boards and other rigid boards follow the same design in increased production. I should now like to say a word about priorities. In December 1945 construction control was removed. It was felt, and I still believe, that when hostilities ended the difficulties of enforcing construction control as we knew it during the war would far outweigh any benefits which might accrue. In order to channel building materials in short supply into the housing field, and make the best possible use of available supplies, a formal priorities rating was established and issued as priorities officer's order No. P.0.11, dated March 12, 1946. There still seems to be some confusion about this order. I wish to reiterate to hon. members that its prime purpose is to channel building materials which are in short supply into government or government-approved low or Housing Act
moderate cost housing projects, such as wartime ' housing, integrated housing, Veterans Land Act, housing enterprises, emergency-shelter and prefabricated units for veterans, and to assist veterans to secure needed materials to complete houses owned by them which are well advanced. Up to the present we have been using 75 per cent as the stage of completion at which we make priorities available to the veteran who will own and occupy the house. We will now issue priorities to veterans who have houses 50 per cent completed, which generally means roofed and ready for plaster. In every instance priorities are made available only for veterans housing or for housing which is to be rented to veterans. It will be noted that, with the exception of the completion of the veteran-owned houses, all priorities of materials are limited to projects controlled in respect to sale price or rental by Central Mortgage and Housing corporation or the Veterans Land Act. This, together with the veterans' preference, is the cardinal principle upon which this priority order functions. It would be wrong to take such steps to provide materials for speculative builders or others if there were no control over the sale price or rentals. In 1946, we expect that approximately 20.000 housing units, or about one-third of the housing expected, will be assisted by priority regulations. At the present moment priorities are assisting in the construction of some 15,000 housing units. As hon. members know, the problem of building labour is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister of Labour, and his department. At the same time a review of the housing situation would not be complete without reference to this vital phase of construction. Few of us realize what an important contribution a housing programme actually makes to a high level of employment and income. A research study just completed by my department indicates that a housing programme of 50,000 units of a desirable standard would employ 143,000 persons for one full year. Of these, it is estimated some 66,000 would be working on the building site, and the remainder in the mines, forests, factories and other businesses concerned with providing necessary building materials and equipment. These figures must be increased by 20 per cent for each additional 10,000 housing units constructed. The importance of the large volume of employment provided by the construction of 50.000 housing units is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that it equals the total number of men working on the combined production of aircraft, guns, shells and bombs during mid-1944. Thus house-building, with its ramifications on the economy as a whole, can absorb many persons laid off since the end of the war. Of course there are difficulties, beoause the skills required cannot always be matched by the type of workman available. Further, there may be an excess of skills in one area and a shortage in another, and the difficulties of transportation are too great to move applicants to the place of employment. To demonstrate this point: On March 30, 1946, the number of unfilled vacancies in the construction industry as reported by the Department of Labour was 9,496 while unplaced applicants numbered 9,802. But many of the unplaced applicants did not have the training or qualifications for the jobs that were available. We were, and still are, very short of bricklayers, masons, carpenters and plumbers, but jobs in these trades cannot be filled by men with little training or experience. I cannot emphasize too strongly the need for the young imen of this country to learn a trade. It is true that at present they may earn more as common labourers than they would if they were to work as apprentices; I believe, however, that the position will be very different when the present squeeze in the labour market is over. When this time comes-we believe it will be the second half of 1047 or the beginning of 1948-the men who have a trade or are completing their training will have better prospects for employment than those who- have no special skill to offer. The government is very conscious of the need for trained personnel, particularly in the construction industry. Arising out of the depressed conditions of the thirties, and the interruption of training plans during the war years, our construction workers have been ageing substantially, with inadequate replacements for those who are leaving the labour market. Perhaps one set of figures will demonstrate this point: In Ontario, a province that has a very good record in apprenticeship training, there were 1,070 construction apprentices registered in 1929, but by 1933 the figure was down to 24, and by 1939 it had only reached 100. To encourage training in construction trades, the dominion government entered into a ten-year agreement with the provinces in 1944. According to this agreement, the dominion government provided a fund of upwards of $1 million to assist the provinces in the expansion of training facilities. Special provisions were also made for veterans. By March 31, 1946, Housing Act 6,785 apprentices were reported by the Department of Labour to be in training, about three-quarters of them being veterans. While satisfactory progress has been made in the field of apprenticeship training, the results of the programme will not be felt for some time, because it takes several years until the training is completed. However, because of shortened training requirements for veterans with some previous experience, a continuous flow of trained building mechanics is expected, beginning in 1947. While training of construction craftsmen is one important element in contributing to the efficiency of the industry, cooperation among the different groups in the industry is also important. To stimulate cooperation among management, labour and government in the construction industry, the dominion government established some time ago the national joint conference board of the construction industry. This board which came into existence during the war years, is continuing its operations, and has been able to do a great deal to foster cooperation in the industry. Next I should like to deal with the activities of the various agencies of government which are making a contribution to meet the present housing needs. These agencies are the emergency shelter administration, Wartime Housing Limited and the National Housing Act, which are operated by the Central Mortgage and Housing corporation, and the Veterans Land Act. Administration of the emergency shelter regulations was transferred from the wartime prices and trade board to Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation by order in council PC. 7502 of December 28, 1945. The principal functions of the emergency shelter administration, which is now operated by the corporation, are: (1) To assist, promote and coordinate the efforts of municipalities, and in some instances, provinces in finding temporary accommodation for families suffering acute hardship and distress because of lack of shelter. (2) To assist municipalities in obtaining surplus government buildings for conversion into temporary accommodation. (3) To assure that all vacant houses in congested areas are put to use. There have been instances when the owner has persistently refused to cooperate. Under the terms of the order the administration has taken over these houses and placed them in the hands of a trust company for sub-letting. In such instances, the rentals receipts are remitted to the owner. As a rule, however, vacant houses have been brought into occupancy through moral suasion. The regulations also provide that no accommodation may be demolished without written authority of the emergency shelter administration. (4) To maintain a close liaison with veterans' organizations and welfare agencies. The administration also is closely allied with Wartime Housing Limited in order to assure that the allocation of units completed by that agency is made to the veterans' families who most urgently need them. (5) To operate housing registries in certain congested areas. The administration also bears the cost of room registries for veterans. These are supervised by the Department of Veterans Affairs. From the time the emergency shelter regulations were established by order in council P.C. 9439, dated December 19, 1944, until February, 1946, the administration took action only when so requested by a municipality. As from February, 1946, a more positive approach was adopted. Although we still rely entirely upon the municipalities, we did approach all the larger municipalities to encourage them to attack their shelter problems in advance. Progress was made to provide a cushion of emergency shelter for May, 1946 and the administration is now working with many municipalities in Canada in an effort to build a similar cushion for the very substantial needs which can be anticipated in October, 1946. To this end, the corporation gives financial assistance to municipalities which have made or are making expenditures to provide shelter. The corporation also assists municipalities to obtain possession of surplus government buildings by purchase or lease. The corporation acts as an expediting agency between the municipality and the government departments concerned with the buildings required for emergency shelter purposes. With the closer relationship between Wartime Housing Limited and the corporation, arrangements will be made in many municipalities to amalgamate similar functions being performed by Wartime Housing Limited and the emergency shelter administration. For instance, emergency shelter functions in Montreal have been consolidated with Wartime Housing Limited since July 1 of this year. Similar action is under consideration in other centres. During 1945 some 2,400 family units of temporary shelter were created in surplus government buildings. From January 1 to July 1 of this year, financial assistance was provided to help municipalities make available 874 family units of shelter. The financial assistance provided by the dominion government amounted to 8441,000. Before the end of 1946