The main difference between the department and the veterans was on a matter of price, because by that time it had become apparent that the department intended to live up one hundred per cent to its undertaking to put the houses in first class shape. The veterans at this time pressed for an independent committee to appraise the value of the houses. My predecessor in this portfolio agreed that this should be done. It was his wish that no veteran should be compelled to sign an agreement to purchase a house which did not represent fair value, and he agreed that the only way to make sure that values were equitable and fair was to appoint a committee of independent experts.
In the fall of 1947 the committee was appointed. I would like hon. members to pay particular attention to the names of the men who comprised that committee. It was headed, first of all, by Mr. J. L. B. Price, a man who through the Canadian Legion has long been identified with veterans work. Mr. Price in private life is one of Canada's outstanding building contractors. As a member of the legion he headed the national committee on veterans housing. He has devoted long hours trying to help veterans from one end of Canada to the other with their housing difficulties.
The second member of the committee was Mr. Malcolm D. MacPhail, a very highly regarded Windsor real estate man who has had many years of experience as a valuator. The third man was Mr. Frederick R. Larkin, mortgage supervisor of the London Life Insurance Company at Windsor. These men in my opinion were unusually qualified to pass on real estate values in the area in which these subdivisions are located.
The committee presented their finding to the department on December 18, 1947. I now table the report. Briefly their finding was that in 54 cases the prices which they set on the houses were below the prices which had previously been quoted by the department. In four cases the price they set was the same as that of the department, and in 42 cases their findings show that the value of the houses as fixed by the independent appraisal committee was above the price quoted by the department to the veteran.
I want to make it absolutely clear that this independent appraisal committee set their prices without any reference to the prices previously quoted by the Veterans Land Act administration. They did not have in their possession the prices which the veterans had originally been asked for the houses.
The department has accepted their report in full with the one notable exception. Where the department price has been found to be below that set by the independent committee, the price to the veteran remains the same. Where the appraisal committee's report of values is below the price set by the department, the lower price is being charged.
The price reductions range from a low of .814.03 to a high of $685.71. The total decrease across the two subdivisions is S24,581 out of a total original capital expenditure on this project of 1694,490 78.
I should inform the house that in living up to our undertaking to put these properties in first class shape we are expending a total of 886,004 in remedial repairs. In addition to this, the contractor has accepted responsibility for certain extensive remedial work which is being done at no expense to the public. There, of course, will be no charge against the veteran for any of this work.
I should emphasize, too, that the original price quoted to the veteran was the exact cost of these properties to the director of the Veterans Land Act. It means in effect that in the remedial repairs and the present reduction a total of $110,000 approximately has been spent on these properties to ensure that the veteran is getting maximum value for his money.
To bring the house up to date on: the situation, I may say that a meeting was held with the veterans on Sunday last at which the district superintendent announced to the veterans the present prices on their houses. These prices were not acceptable and a demand has been made for a further downward revision.
I am informed that at Sunday's meeting the veterans went on record unanimously as being completely satisfied with the progress and the quality of the repair program. There were still, it is true, a few minor complaints. But in the main I can assure the house that the veterans are satisfied with the quality and that the one remaining point at issue is the matter of price. That this is true is best evidenced by the fact that when the president of the veterans committee asked for a show of hands from those veterans who intend to purchase their houses, all but two expressed their intention of doing so. I am advised that the two who did not raise their hands included the president of the committee who is planning to build his own house under veterans individual housing.
So we now have a situation where apparently the veterans are satisfied with the conditions of their homes; they are satisfied that the department will complete the remedial pro-
gram in a way acceptable to them. We have prices set not by the department but by an independent appraisal committee as requested by the veterans themselves, but we still have the veterans refusing to accept these prices.
The one request which was made to the veterans at Sunday's meeting was that they let the department know whether they are prepared to sign a purchase agreement or whether they want to go on a temporary rental agreement basis, pending sale to another qualified veteran.
I think hon. members will realize that we must bring this situation to a conclusion. There are at present approximately 250 veterans in Windsor qualified under the Veterans Land Act who have not yet been able to find a home. Further, the house should note that of the 2,673 houses constructed on subdivisions throughout Canada, 2,372 veterans have signed their purchase agreements and furthermore are meeting their payments satisfactorily.