May 20, 1948

PC

Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. RODNEY ADAMSON (York West):

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the library committee may I say that this motion came up in that committee during the war, and was shelved until such time as the war ended and

National Housing Act

consideration could be given to it. I was in favour of taking some suitable action, and I believe my position had the support of the majority of the committee.

While I agree that the joint committee on the library of parliament may not be the proper body to carry out all the work at this stage, I believe this proposal would be a proper first step, in order that some day we may have a suitable national library in Canada.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

May I ask the minister if he has any proposed plan?

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON (Hamilton West):

We have no plan for a building, no.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

It is more important than national parks.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON (Hamilton West):

In reply to the observations of the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwelll), I would say that if the committee meets and decides that a special committee should be appointed, it will be in a position so to recommend in its report.

I had thought they would possibly do that; I had not considered that they would themselves undertake to draw up a program.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

That will bury it for this session.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

Does the government intend to present to this committee when it meets any considered policy of its own?

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON (Hamilton West):

The resolution before the house is that the committee shall consider the resolutions and proposals, and any other proposals which may be brought in, and that it shall then make its recommendations in its report to the house.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

I take it that the proposals which from year to year have been made from this side of the house will be considered too.

Topic:   NATIONAL LIBRARY
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO JOINT COMMITTEE ON LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT
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Motion agreed to.


NATIONAL DEFENCE

ATLANTIC COAST-UNITED STATES BASES IN NEWFOUNDLAND


On the orders of the day: Mr. J. II. DICKEY (Halifax): Mr. Speaker, in view of the importance to the constituency of Halifax of defence and allied matters along the Atlantic coast, I should, like to ask a question of the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. St. Laurent). If the decision of the people of Newfoundland is for confederation with Canada, and if that decision is carried out, will it affect in any way the ownership of defence bases in Newfoundland territory which are now occupied by United States forces, or will Canada acquire any interest in such bases? Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Secretary of State for External Affairs): My information is that United States bases in Newfoundland are held under 99-year leases as from 1941, under treaties between the United States and the United Kingdom. Any change of tenure, in the event of union of Newfoundland with Canada, would of course require new treaty arrangements with the United States government.


NATIONAL HOUSING

AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO POWERS OF APPROVED LENDING INSTITUTIONS, ETC.


The house resumed from Wednesday, May 19, consideration of the motion of Mr. Howe for the second reading of Bill No. 280, to amend the National Housing Act, 1944, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Nicholson.


PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. HARRIS (Danforth):

Mr. Speaker, last night when the house adjourned at six o'clock I had hoped I might have concluded my few remarks. It so happened, however, that at the adjournment hour I had been referring to New Zealand and Australia. I had in mind the fact that I had read many references as to how these socialistic members of the commonwealth had dealt with their housing problems. From my own observations of a few short years ago I am prompted to say that their problem is not solved. The problem there is just as intense as it is here. It may be that they have on their statute books legislation which will help them solve their housing problem more quickly than it can be solved here. Their geographical position gives them some advantage in that they do not know what it means to live under circumstances such as those described yesterday by the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Matthews), where sometimes temperatures drop to as much as thirty degrees below zero. They do not have to prepare for winter to the same extent that we do in this country, nor do they encounter many of our difficulties.

Mention has been made of building priorities of one kind or another. I would ask the minister to correct me if I am wrong in the statement that we have priorities in connection with the acquisition of nearly everything we require in the building of houses, whereas in New Zealand those priorities are applied to the extent of only fifty per cent.

I realize that in some respects we must be even more drastic than we are today in the diversion of building supplies to enterprises

National Housing Act

other than housing. I have in mind two classes which should have priority, and it is on behalf of these that I speak this afternoon. The first would include all those honourable, gallant and distinguished 3'oung men who came home to us after saving our way of life and our democracy. Therefore I put veterans in the first category. In the second I place those men and women who find themselves adapted to industrial occupations and who of necessity are anxious to live close to their place of employment. Of necessity they find themselves living in slum areas in the vicinity of industrial plants.

Speaking first of veterans, as I said a few days ago, and a few years ago as well, by their very training in their adolescent days, by the fact that they left school to go overseas, by the fact that their fathers were tradesmen and craftsmen, they cannot be forced out into rural areas to be made into farmers. I do not for one moment deprecate that particular idea.

I remember the eloquent words of the hon. member for one of the Hurons when he told us that there were many vacant houses in the farm areas of Ontario. I remember the hon. member for one of the Renfrews saying the same thing. I see my Nova Scotia friend smiling. How manjr empty dilapidated farm houses are there in the maritime provinces which could be occupied by Canadian citizens? Many thousands.

I am going to digress for a moment. Coming home on the S.S. Aquitania I travelled with 12,000 war brides. They had been told wonderful stories about Canada. Some of them were leaning over the rail to catch the first glimpse of the coastline of the maritimes close to Halifax. One said to me, "What a wonderful country! Marble bathrooms!" She said, "Is that one of them on the hill, that outbuilding?" I said, "Perhaps it is." "Swimming pools in front of the homes." There was a little fisherman's shack on the side of the hill with the ocean in front. "Is that a swimming pool?" "Perhaps it is." Many of these people were disillusioned. They had been told what they should have, what they must have.

To those who have these dreams in regard to houses I refer the words of the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Blackmore) as recorded in yesterday's Hansard. He told us of the great joy and pleasure he had had out of building his own house many years ago. In my opinion, except for the veterans we are not responsible for all these people unless they are handicapped or living in slum areas. If we could instil into their minds some of the Victorian ideas of the hon. member for one of the Itenfrews who spoke so eloquently last

year with regard to house building, their problem might be solved. Let them get out and build for themselves. Let them get themselves covered, as my hon. friend did, by the work of their own hands. Then this country of Canada will go ahead much faster than it is progressing at the present time.

Except for one circumstance there would not be the shortage of supplies that there is now. As has been pointed out by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario since the session started, there has been great industrial expansion. In order that there may be no misunderstanding I shall refer to some of these. How many hon. members took advantage of the invitation to visit Toronto? Those who did saw our waterfront. They saw evidence of the expenditure of $20,000.000, to be followed by another $10,000,000 in the next two years. All this large construction work is using up materials. I am referring to that area along Fleet street where you saw the Victory Mills, which are expending $10,000,000 on plant for the production of Orange Crush, 7-up and other drinks not of this kind but perhaps W'orse than this and some even better than this. Then there is the large plant of Standard Chemicals.

I have no objection to the building of large plants such as that to be constructed by Lever Brothers, who will expend $10,000,000 within the next two years and consume thousands of tons of building materials. Let us have industry. The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario referred to the abundance of our resources. Let us build these while we may, but the fact remains that when you are building these you cannot build houses for the workers who will carry on these industries.

No doubt those workers will be well paid, but where are they to live? Are they to live in Regent's Park, one of the slum areas? I hope not. These industrial areas are being built up right in front of the greatest slum area in Toronto. The traffic is so congested that these workers cannot get on a bus to go home if they live a mile or two away, too far to walk. The fault lies in having these industries in the midst of a slum area in a large city like Toronto. The same condition obtains in many other cities. They could be built more cheaply and everyone would be better off if they were located ten, fifteen or twenty miles beyond the city limits. They should not be crowded up in the city where of necessity slum areas will be created.

I know that this bill provides that eighty-five per cent of the bricks, labour and supplies that go into a house are to be financed in one way or another, whether by the municipal-

National Housing Act

ity, by the province or by the dominion. But I also realize that there are being concentrated in the centres of our large cities thousands of employees who would be much better off if they could live outside the cities, such as half way between Toronto and Hamilton, as some have done, or away to the east of Toronto near Pickering, or up where Maclean-Hunter are spending $6,000,000 or $8,000,000 at a location twenty miles north of the city limits. I thank them for the wisdom they have shown in doing that. Those who have established large industries in the centres of our cities are doing something which is not for the general advantage of those communities, because they are encouraging people to live in slum areas.

A word with regard to materials. It is unfortunate in my opinion that this administration in its wisdom has seen fit to allow double depreciation. Any way you look at it, these companies have sufficient reserves. I direct the attention of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) to the fact that many of them are able to plan building expansion programs. If I could make a plea to these people today it would be to ask them to slow down their expenditures on new construction until such time as house building could catch up with the demand. They are using up supplies of all kinds. I do not know, but I would hazard a guess from my own observation that for every dollar spent in the construction of dwellings, close to $2 is being spent by these industrial organizations. If there were some method of putting the brakes on industrial expansion until private enterprise could overtake the slack in housing requirements, it would be a good thing for Canada. If for a few years we do not expand our industrial and factory buildings of all kinds far beyond our requirements but rather extend house building and house ownership among our people, two or three decades hence these industries will be able to expend their reserves in industrial expansion. In this event the workers, instead of being discouraged and disheartened and anxious to join with others to squeeze the last possible dollar out of their employers, will be anxious to devote all the money they can save to building a house for themselves. If we speed up home ownership we shall be doing something for the general advantage of Canada.

In 1939, seventy per cent of the people in m\r community owned or were on the way to owning their homes. I challenge this administration to say that that is so today; I do not

know myself, but I have an idea that that percentage does not now prevail. The trend is the other way. My people are solid citizens, but if they do not own the houses in which they live, or if they are not imbued with the idea of doing so, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, where will their progeny be two or three decades from now?

With regard to supplies, they are not being distributed in proper proportions. Let us have more supplies for the building of houses, even if it is necessary to cut down on industrial expansion. I was glad to hear the minister say yesterday that barbed wire production is to be suspended for two months so that the steel wire may be used in the production of nails. Personally I think that the man who first produced barbed wire should have been hanged with it, because it has done more damage to livestock than any other single thing. Let us make more nails, so that there will no longer be that excuse for the lack of housing. I am willing to let the eighty-five cents of the dollar be spent to help construction, but I do not feel disposed to go all out for the amendment which has been proposed to this bill and which would establish practically the public ownership of homes and houses. One of the great virtues of the Canadian people is the ambition in their hearts and minds which makes them ready to work hard and for long hours to own something for themselves. There are not enough people in this civilized world who have that inspiration and that ambition. Let us not in this chamber be a party to anything which might impair that virtue of the strong men of the north, namely, the ambition to go out and build a house for themselves and rear a family in that home.

The bill provides for slum clearance. The city of Toronto may be said to have given some leadership in slum clearance. They have talked about it now for four years, and every public man there is buttonholed by persons who want to know when the public bodies charged with responsibility for slum clearance are going to set to work. Let this administration take an inventory of all the slum clearance projects in Canada and then get down to business and make a start by clearing Eegent's Park. If we have any responsibility here for that, and I think the minister will agree that we have, he will find not only the city of Toronto but even the Ontario government willing and anxious to co-operate in the fullest measure on slum clearance. The minister will not deny that. Then let us make a start and show that we can do something somewhere, even if that somewhere happens to be in the

National Housing Act

confines of the great city of Toronto. But of course we in the city of Toronto are willing to go along with others.

I am in a rather awkward position. I have asked that the government go slow in industrial expansion. Yet on May 14 I had to sit quietly in my seat and listen to Canada's great Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) enunciate an expansion project which will consume building materials and take out of the market many thousands of bricks, much mortar and a certain amount of labour. Nevertheless it is a project that I must approve, if it is necessary. It is not a project of industrial expansion. It has to do with hospital accommodation. It is a young project-that is, it is eighteen years old. Not a dollar has been spent upon it in those eighteen years, but now $3,000,000 worth of bricks and mortar is to be used for these purposes. It may seem that I am inconsistent when I ask the minister, as I have asked him in days gone by, to go ahead and build a certain project which has had the privilege of giving yearly over 100,000 days of hospital service to civilian and soldier patients who were incapacitated and in hospital through no fault of their own. We were pleased to hear the Prime Minister rise in his place and announce that his administration, in co-operation with the Ontario government and municipal governments, would provide $1,000 per bed for active treatment patients who had come to the hospital for treatment.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO POWERS OF APPROVED LENDING INSTITUTIONS, ETC.
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but he is departing from the subject matter of the bill.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO POWERS OF APPROVED LENDING INSTITUTIONS, ETC.
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PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. When I notice in the bill that assistance is to be given in the construction of houses up to a maximum of eighty-five per cent of their estimated cost, and when I notice, sir, that corporations are invited to take over the projects when they are completed and paid for under the guaranteed contract, and so forth, I am trying in my humble way to point out that there are some organizations which might interfere with the carrying out of the provisions of this bill. The hospital project I mention is competitive in the use of materials which could be used for housing. Therefore, sir, if I have your indulgence I should like to make one or two comments. They will be included in two sentences.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO POWERS OF APPROVED LENDING INSTITUTIONS, ETC.
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LIB

Thomas Vincent Grant

Liberal

Mr. GRANT:

Louder.

Mr. HARRIS' (Danforth): My hon. friend says "louder," or something else. I remind him, Mr. Speaker, that when the angel Gabriel descends from heaven and places one foot on dry land and the other on the ocean and declares that the world shall be no more, my

hon. friend will cry "Louder, louder!" Meanwhile it is his hard luck if he cannot hear what I am saying.

Now, sir, I shall continue with my two sentences. Within the next year or two this administration is going to give $1,000 per bed toward the construction of a hospital extension which in the finished' state will have cost close to $3,000,000. My community, the corporation of the city of Toronto, will contribute to that hospital program $5 for every $1 that the government contributes. That is one sentence. My second sentence is this. I would ask the omnibus minister of everything that is worthwhile in the House of Commons, now the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), the man charged with responsibility for this bill, to do as he did for us before. Let us have the building supplies for our hospital so that we in turn can give hospital service to our fellowmen.

Topic:   NATIONAL HOUSING
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO POWERS OF APPROVED LENDING INSTITUTIONS, ETC.
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May 20, 1948