My time has almost expired, but I should like to say a word about the economic outlook. As I have said before the prosperity of a country can be gauged fairly well by the annual volume of its exports plus the annual volume of its investment.. In Canada, our capital investment program for the year 1948 stood at about $3 billion. By a coincidence, our exports from Canada during the year 1948 were also at about the level of $3 billion. At the same time our gross national product-that is, the value of everything produced in Canada during 1948 -was in excess of $15 billion. I might say to hon. gentlemen that each of those figures is just about three times the comparable figures of ten years ago and about six times the comparable figures of the period 1930-35 which hon. gentlemen opposite know something about.
In our department it is customary to attempt a forecast of the current economic period. Earlier today I tabled the results of a questionnaire that is sent out by the department to some eighteen thousand business firms in Canada. It is sent to municipalities, to provinces and to every agency that carries on construction work. It is a type of survey that has been made for the past several years which has proven to be remarkably accurate. Its importance has been recognized by business, and each year we are getting better co-operation from business in working out that survey. The survey reveals that the total investment intentions for 1949 exceed those of 1948 by about eight per cent. That is eight per cent in value, which means by about three per cent in volume. There are some changes in the pattern for 1949 investments. There is a higher proportion of investment, on the part of institutions, in utilities and in housing and a somewhat lower proportion in the manufacturing industries. That is indeed an exceedingly large investment program for a country of jour size, but the supply situation has improved considerably and there is every reason to believe that Canada will be able to complete the program that is there indicated.
A study of the gross national product figures indicates that the gross national product for 1949 promises to be about $1 billion higher than the $15,500 million estimate for
1948. There is an indication that the general level of business will be about the same as in
1949, with a leveling off in prices that will relieve the economy of the inflationary pressures that were caused in part by the short
supply position. As a result of the survey, and of the studies that have been conducted by officers of my department who are competent to make such studies, I think I can say that, barring earthquakes, serious labour-management troubles or a change in government, the position of our economy during 1949 will not deteriorate, and the people of Canada can be assured that 1949 will be as prosperous a year as was 1948.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY