February 20, 1957

SC

Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit

Mr. Shaw:

I am pleased to hear the minister say that, because I have had a number of communications from those who are vitally interested in this hail suppression program. I know they have been particularly interested in securing both provincial and federal help in connection with this project. I know the minister is as interested as I am in anything that might result in less hail falling in any area, particularly in those areas where the damage has been so devastating.

Prairie Farm Assistance Act

I should like to ask the minister if any research has been done on hail suppression by any agency of the federal government. I do not know of any research that is being carried on in Alberta, and I do not know whether the government of Alberta is assisting in the financing of such a project. I hope they are; if they are not, I hope they will, and I say the same thing to the minister as federal minister.

I should like to refer to just one other thing in connection with the P.F.A.A., and I do this because of representations that have been made to me from time to time by farmers who have lost their crops. As the minister knows, hail loss is a pretty devastating type of loss because in many cases you are not even left with feed for your livestock. These people have had to go out and seek temporary off the farm employment. In many cases it has been a matter of whether they eat or do not eat. In my province quite a number of younger people, many of them veterans, have settled on land within recent years.

It is not as if these people had been established for a number of years and had the opportunity of building up a reserve against emergencies. In these cases people have had to leave the farms and make some arrangement to carry on. In one case I know of, the man left his wife and children there so he might go elsewhere to earn enough to pay grocery and other necessary bills. Yet, under the provisions of the act as it stands at present, these people have no protection, and I urge the government to take another look at this matter and give it their serious consideration.

If the Department of Agriculture could see its way clear to changing the unit of eligibility, particularly in relation to hail, and to look into this other matter, namely that of persons who are compelled to seek seasonal work, then I am sure most of the complaints which are directed against P.F.A.A. in my part of the country would be removed. I would also tell the minister this. The farmers with whom I have talked have indicated to me that they are prepared to pay considerably more than they are called upon to pay at the present time. That is virtually the unanimous view expressed to me by farmers with whom I have been in contact.

In conclusion, I would say that the Prairie Farm Assistance Act has been a very wonderful thing for western Canada. We have supported it in the past and we will continue to support it; and even if crop insurance were brought in there would still appear to me to be a need for such legislation as this. With regard to what the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre said, I do not think his

Prairie Farm Assistance Act comparison between the Unemployment Insurance Act and prairie farm assistance was a good one. Under the Unemployment Insurance Act we do not have to wait until 40 or 50 other people are unemployed before qualifying for benefit; under P.F.A.A. that is what it amounts to. I do not think the two things should be compared. We believe that each, in its own field, does a wonderful job.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

Hugh Alexander MacKenzie

Liberal

Mr. MacKenzie:

Mr. Chairman, I had not intended to take part in the discussion today. I thought perhaps the resolution stage would have been completed yesterday; we could then have had the bill before us in order to see exactly what it means and what it contemplates doing. But the debate did not conclude last night, and I want to make just a few remarks in connection with this legislation.

I was in the house myself in 1938 when this bill first became effective. I have always had a great deal of sympathy with farmers and their agricultural problems, and I knew that western farmers were in rather dire straits as a result of poor crops, so I certainly supported the measure wholeheartedly. But it does seem to me that the situation today is entirely changed; western farmers are not in the same circumstances at all as they were at that time. Consequently I think I should be permitted to put a few facts on the record to indicate, at least to the house, that this legislation as it applies to the three prairie provinces is not so vital today as it was then.

Since 1935 when I first came into this house western wheat growers have had a great deal of assistance from the government, or the consolidated revenue fund, or the taxpayers, whatever you wish. The first provision for prairie farm assistance was brought down as a temporary measure by the Bennett administration. It provided for the spending of $4,750,000 over a five-year period. This measure was to provide for the rehabilitation of the drought and soil-drifting areas of the prairie provinces; it was amended in 1937 and further amended in 1939, when the five-year limitation was removed. The act has been in force in Canada ever since.

My figures are not quite up to date and do not cover the crop year 1955-56, but from 1935 to 1955 approximately $100 million has been spent in the three prairie provinces on P.F.R.A. P.F.A.A. was brought in in 1939, and from 1939 to March 31, 1955, the total amount paid under this act was $177,397,625, less some $85 million recovered from grain delivered collections, leaving a balance of $91,629,692 which was paid by the government.

The wheat acreage reduction plan operated from 1942 to 1946, during which time the government paid to the farmers, for summer fallowing and so on, approximately $90 million. In addition, in October, 1941, order

in council P.C. 8126 authorized $20 million to be paid to western farmers to make up for their lack of income.

During the debate last year on Bills 82 and 83, several speakers sponsoring the interests of western Canada claimed that the wheat board had paid its own expenses and cost the government nothing. Well, how does this work out? Let me read an item from the Canadian wheat board report of 1935-46, reprinted from the Canada Year Book and headed "Operations of the board":

Purchases from the producers during the crop year amounted to 292,360,030 bushels and there was an unsold carryover of 86.539,554 bushels shown at July 31, 1939. This wheat was sold during the following crop year, 1939-40, but the account for the 1938 crop was not closed out until April 24, 1942, when the final funds were received from the Department of Finance. The deficit resulting from the board's operations in 1938-39 was then placed at $61,525,691.

We all remember, of course, the $65 million that was granted in 1951. And now we come to the provision which was made last year, $32 million for wheat storage.

Let me summarize all this and calculate the cost to the taxpayers of this country. P.F.R.A. between 1935 and 1955 cost $100 million; P.F.A.A. since 1939, including the crop year 1945-1955, cost $91 million; wheat acreage reduction from 1942 to 1945, $90 million; prairie farm income, 1941-42, $20 million; subsidy to the wheat board, 1938-39, $61 million; subsidy to the wheat board in 1951, $65 million; payment last year for storage, approximately $32 million, and this year another payment of $32 million. This list does not include payments on account of P.F.R.A. and P.F.A.A. for the crop year 1955, and the total will probably amount to well over $500 million in respect of the years between 1935 and 1955, and for the crop year 1956.

Now, that is not bad. I think that is pretty good. This act which we are amending now does not, it should be remembered, affect any of the farm districts outside the three prairie provinces. It is, actually, in the nature of a crop insurance plan. Now, I do not believe there is anyone in this house who knows the problems of agriculture from one end of the country to the other as well as the Minister of Agriculture. The minister said last night, however, that the distribution of subsidies or grants throughout the provinces was approximately even. Well, I hope when the estimates are under discussion he will show me that this is true, because it is hard for me to believe it.

What I want to point out to the committee is that there are other parts of the agricultural economy which are not so prosperous, either.

Take the province of Ontario. Last year the weather was rather wet and cold. The farmers here grow corn in a big way, but with the wet and cold weather last year the crop did not mature very rapidly. Then there was an early frost and much of the corn did not mature. A lot of it was never harvested at all. There were thousands of acres that were of no value at all from a production standpoint.

Then there is the white bean crop that we have in western Ontario. You must have comparatively dry weather to harvest that crop. We lost most of the bean crop in 1955, and we had no recourse of any kind. When I discussed the matter with the officials of the Department of Agriculture-I am not sure whether or not I got a definite statement from the minister-to see if there was any redress at all I was told it was a purely provincial matter and that the province should take care of it. Last year we had a lot of hail and many farmers lost whole crops of tobacco. If they did not have hail insurance they lost everything.

In the light of these facts do you think it is fair to have a crop insurance plan for the prairie provinces only? You can call it a relief measure, if you will, but it is in the nature of a crop insurance plan. Do you think it is fair to have a crop insurance plan, perhaps not adequate but the nucleus of a plan, for the three prairie provinces which have enjoyed a good deal of prosperity in the last few years, and ask farmers engaged in other types of agriculture in other parts of Canada who do not have a very high income to contribute to the plan? I do not think that is quite fair.

I have tried to get figures from the bureau of statistics to show the amount of income tax paid by farmers, because it is said that income tax collections are some indication of their income wherever they may be. In 1952 the income tax paid by farmers across Canada amounted to $27,454,000. The amount paid by Saskatchewan farmers was $13 million and the amount paid by Alberta farmers was something like $8,350,000. This means that Saskatchewan and Alberta farmers paid approximately $21 million out of the $27 million collected in 1952.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

Discrimination.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

Hugh Alexander MacKenzie

Liberal

Mr. MacKenzie:

Well, it is all very well for these people to say they pay their income tax, but I cannot be convinced that there is one yardstick for income tax for farmers in Ontario and a different yardstick for farmers in western Canada.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

That is what your whole speech is saying.

Prairie Farm Assistance Act

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

Hugh Alexander MacKenzie

Liberal

Mr. MacKenzie:

I do not believe that at all. If this plan is not going to apply all across the board and cover all farm crops, then I certainly think it is time the matter should be left to the provinces. I believe the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta are well able to take care of the payments made under P.F.R.A. and P.F.A.A. If they do not do so, then I think the plan should apply across the board and cover all farm districts.

I must say quite frankly that I know most people are going to support the legislation wholeheartedly. I did say that I supported it wholeheartedly in 1939 and 1940, but the situation has changed so greatly that I am certainly not in favour of the Prairie Farm Assistance Act under the present set-up and I will vote against it, work against it and do anything I can to change the present situation unless it applies to all agriculture in Canada.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, my first reaction in listening to the hon. member for Lambton-Kent was, who is crying now? The bean crop is gone, the corn crop is gone and hail is widespread.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

Hugh Alexander MacKenzie

Liberal

Mr. MacKenzie:

I was just giving facts.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

He dealt with various difficulties, and I was sorry the hon. member for Maple Creek was not here to give one of his great perorations against people crying over things such as we have listened to several times in the house. What point the hon. member for Lambton-Kent was trying to make in the early part of his speech I do not know, but I am quite sure of one thing. Everybody in western Canada running against a Liberal candidate will be most delighted to bring the hon. member's remarks to the attention of all the people possible in western Canada. I am equally sure that his remarks will help to defeat some of the Liberal candidates out there.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

Hugh Alexander MacKenzie

Liberal

Mr. MacKenzie:

I was not looking at the matter from a political angle at all.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I know the hon. member is far above politics. He is a statesman pure and simple.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

Simple is right.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I simply wished to draw this point to his attention and the attention of the committee. I suppose every farmer in western Canada will be glad that these improvements in Prairie Farm Assistance Act payments are going to be made. As far as the farmers in the foothills of Alberta around Calgary are concerned, that being the district where I farm, they will be particularly glad

Prairie Farm Assistance Act to hear that there is to be no increase in the amount they will be called upon to pay under the scheme.

In that area, of course, there has been a certain amount of mild grumbling about having to pay for this scheme because of the fact that the farmers are never able to collect anything. A few of them did collect a certain amount three years ago, I believe, when there was very wide hail damage in that area, but apart from hail damage the fact is that in that area, as in quite a number of other areas in Alberta and also in Manitoba, there is no chance of people collecting under the scheme. As I say, there has been a certain amount of mild grumbling, although on the whole the farmers, even though they realize they cannot collect except for hail damage, are agreeable to paying the levy because they look upon the scheme as a good one for the farmers of western Canada as a whole in protecting them against devastating drought conditions or loss of crops otherwise.

The only time any collection was made under the scheme was because of the widespread hail damage I mentioned, and I remember one of my neighbours saying, "Well, it is the most expensive damned hail insurance that anybody could possibly buy." As far as we are concerned that is correct. Having regard to the amount the farmers there have to pay, the amount they can possibly get back by way of return because of hail damage is very small. Nevertheless, in spite of some grumbling the general feeling is that it is a good scheme and there will certainly be no complaint because the payments are being increased. The situation will be the reverse. I think the scheme will be much more acceptable in the part of the country from which I come, and the other areas where the chances of collecting are very small and collection is only made in exceptional circumstances such as hail or flood, because the payments are being increased.

There are some other matters concerning the Prairie Farm Assistance Act in which I am particularly interested, and I wish to refer first of all to the question of lands that are excluded from payment. I would hope that when the act is being amended the minister will take the opportunity to correct some of the injustices as far as payments are concerned. I refer particularly to Indians. In Alberta there are now quite a large number of Indians who are farming on reservations, but they are not eligible for payments under the act. They have to pay into the fund just the same as everybody else, but they cannot collect because they are on a reservation. Some of these Indians cultivate considerable acreages, particularly on the Blood and Blackfoot reserves.

Some of the cultivation carried on by Indians is of a co-operative nature, and co-operatives are definitely included under the scheme. Co-operative farms can collect P.F.A.A. payments, but mission schools for Indians which operate farms are not able to collect. I would hope the minister would amend the act at this time in order to include these people. I can see no reason why Indians should be discriminated against in this way. I was glad to see that in the brief presented to the government by the farm unions, whose representatives are in Ottawa at the present time, one of their recommendations was that Indians on reservations be made eligible for P.F.A.A. payments.

Another group of people whom I can see no reason for excluding are those covered by section 3 of the act, subsection' 3 of which reads as follows:

3. No award under this section shall be made . . .

And this is under paragraph (c) (i).

(i) lands disposed of to a settler or veteran under the Soldier Settlement Act, chapter 188 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1927, or the Veterans' Land Act . . .

Why people who hold land under the Soldier Settlement Act or under the Veterans' Land Act should be excluded from the benefits of this act I quite fail to understand. It seems to be another case of gross discrimination for which there is no excuse. I would make a very strong plea to the minister that he remove that exclusion from the benefits of this act as far as people holding land under the Veterans' Land Act are concerned. As a matter of fact the amount of land any veteran was able to get under the Veterans' Land Act was a small farm, not sufficient to put him in farming in a very big way. They are among the very group of farmers who on the whole perhaps need the assistance or help they can get under a scheme of this kind more than do farmers generally.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

Mr. Chairman, I am sorry I was not just listening all the way through. Would my hon. friend mind suggesting to me where the veteran is excluded under the terms of the act?

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Under section 3 of the act which is headed "Crop failure assistance". Subsection 3 of that section reads:

No award under this section shall be made-[DOT]

Then there are paragraphs (a) and (b) and paragraph (c) (i), with relation to lands to which it does not apply, refers to lands disposed of to a settler or veteran.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

That puts them back in. That puts in the veteran in all that area that was excluded, as coming in after 1940. The veterans are brought back in.

Prairie Farm Assistance Act Mr. Harkness; If they are in, well and some consideration has been given to it, but good. However, the Indians are certainly I am not in a position to go any further not in. at the moment.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

That is right.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

What I have had to say about them stands and applies. I am glad to hear that the veterans are in under the act.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I might go just a little bit farther in that matter. What it says is this:

(c) with respect to lands not sold or granted, or not agreed to be sold or granted, by His Majesty prior to the 31st day of December, 1940, and for the purposes of this section such lands shall not be included in computing the cultivated land of a farmer, and the grain grown thereon shall not be included in computing the average yield in a township, but this paragraph does not apply to-

And in that is included the lands of veterans, which means that the lands of veterans stay in under the act.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I am glad that is the case. Just before I sit down, I wonder whether the minister would comment on this exclusion of Indians on reserves, and whether he has in mind an amendment to the act in order to include them.

Topic:   PRAIRIE FARM ASSISTANCE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY
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February 20, 1957