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.
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE AUTHORIZED AWARDS AND LEVY