October 19, 1976

LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

I am sorry, and I wish to apologize to the hon. member. I was mistaken as to the amount of time available to the hon. member. He still has a few more minutes to go.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ENERGY-REQUEST FOR SUBSIDY TO ATLANTIC PROVINCES- GOVERNMENT ACTION
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

I appreciate that. I have been here for 20 years and have made many wrong moves, but I have never over-extended my time. I say to the minister, whom I like and respect, and for whom I still have hopes: what plant can operate in Prince Edward Island, processing our fine fish or our fine agricultural products, if electricity costs are so exorbitant as to drive it completely out of the Atlantic area? How can he justify those energy costs when our most important minister, the minister for DREE, is seeking to establish and consolidate these very industries? My hon. friend from Egmont touched recently on these points, as I have done for years. There is no logic in one minister dedicating himself to enhancing and supporting the deprived areas of the country if all the other ministers vote against him.

One of the principal contributors to economic disparity is the excessive cost of energy in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. In Prince Edward Island, or Charlottetown, the average salary is $8,100 and the average energy bill is $980, or 12 per cent of the earnings of a household. In Toronto the average salary is $11,000 and the average energy cost per household is $525, or 4.8 per cent. In Edmonton, that wonderful city in the west, the average salary is $11,000 and the average annual energy bill is $305, or 2.7 per cent. One more shattering statistic reveals that electricity cost per kilowatt hour in Charlottetown is $4.35, in Toronto $1.76, and in Winnipeg $1.58. We love the westerners and we love the Ontario people, but this is a disgraceful situation. With figures like these we scarcely need to dilate upon the question of regional disparity. The statistics are all too painfully eloquent and poignantly revealing.

I plead with the minister-and I am honoured by his presence here tonight-to energize himself and to listen to the two premiers, although I think in this case Mr. Regan is more aggressive than Mr. Campbell. As my own leader recognized some weeks ago, temporary aid is absolutely essential. This we must have, and beyond this some major long range moves are overdue.

There are a number of areas in which the Atlantic region can be assisted by the dominion government. The first, I would say, is to stop studying and to start doing something about the Fundy tides. As a Presbyterian and religious man I say it passeth my understanding, in an age when we talk learnedly about renewable and non-renewable resources, that the Fundy project is so casually regarded by the Government of Canada. It is the one great eternal source of energy. So long as the earth, the sun and the moon endure that energy is there.

But why do we want so long? The great French philosopher Montesquieu said that to govern was to foresee. 1 invite the government to show foresight and to do something lasting and effective in the struggle against regional economic disparity which has been a part of the confederation process and reality for over a century.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ENERGY-REQUEST FOR SUBSIDY TO ATLANTIC PROVINCES- GOVERNMENT ACTION
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LIB

Alastair William Gillespie (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Hon. Alastair Gillespie (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources):

Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the opportunity of replying to the eloquent member for Hillsborough (Mr. Macquarrie), a man who has entertained us and held us

October 19, 1976

spellbound on many an occasion. I wish I had the kind of budget that would solve the problem that he has set out for us tonight. I wish I could help everybody in all parts of the country. Although there is a tendency to see the problem solely in terms of Prince Edward Island-I do not kid myself; I realize it is probably more serious in Prince Edward Island than in other parts of the country-the problem of increasing electric energy costs exists in other parts of the country as well. Indeed, not so very far away from here you will find electricity rates which are comparable to those in Nova Scotia.

The federal government had a choice to make when the Arab OPEC nations increased the world price of oil. It could have gone immediately to the world price, as some European countries did and as Japan did, or it could have made the choice that it did make, which was to move up in measured steps toward the international price.

As a result of that, the taxpayers of Canada have subsidized very substantially energy users in Canada. In the maritimes alone that subsidy assistance by the end of this year will run very close to $1 billion since the oil price increase went through. More particularly, I think it is important to recognize that automatically, as a result of the last price increase in Canada, there was a shift from the federal treasury to the treasuries of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I. I am talking about the federal-provincial equalization payments. This automatic shift, which resulted purely from the increase in the oil price, is comparable to the increased cost of oil generation in the province of Nova Scotia-in fact it is a little below-and it is a little below but very close to the cost in P.E.I.

Let me go on to say, Mr. Speaker, that there are many who argue that a subsidy is not the answer, that we must look to longer term solutions. Quite frankly, that is where I am placing my emphasis. I would draw the hon. member's attention to the report of a speech that appeared in the Friday, October 8 edition of the Chronicle-Herald headlined, "Energy Subsidy Would Only Delay the Crunch". The speech was by Dr. Peter Wilson, director of the Atlantic Industrial Research Institute, Nova Scotia Technical College. He had this to say the previous Thursday:

A direct subsidy would also postpone the energy saving decisions which would inevitably result from higher prices.

I think it is important that we look at things like the Fundy tides. Indeed we are, and we are participating with the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I have seen the first stage of phase one, and the three different projects have been identified. I do not think we should kid one another. Is the hon. member saying that we want Fundy tidal power at any cost, or regardless of the cost, even if it is two or three times the cost of alternative sources such as hydro from Labrador, and nuclear power? I would ask the hon. member to look very seriously at that question.

The other point I want to make is that I am very much impressed with the initiatives of the Premier of Prince Edward

Adjournment Debate

Island in respect of renewable energy projects. I have them on my desk, I have been looking at them, and I have been out to see the sites. I think he is taking a very positive and constructive approach to this whole thing.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ENERGY-REQUEST FOR SUBSIDY TO ATLANTIC PROVINCES- GOVERNMENT ACTION
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HOUSING-POSSIBILITY OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR REHABILITATION OF EXISTING UNITS

PC

Jack Marshall

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jack Marshall (Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe):

Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with the Atlantic region as well, particularly Newfoundland. On Friday I asked the Minister of State for Urban Affairs (Mr. Danson) a question regarding the rehabilitation program in two areas, one under NIP and RRAP, and the other under a special application for Newfoundland veterans presented to the minister by the provincial command of the Canadian Legion.

The Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program is, to my mind, one of the best projects ever devised by the government, but for some reason or other there are not enough funds going in to help the many thousands of people who need help. For example, in the province of Newfoundland in the rural areas there are 43,265 people in the lower income bracket earning between $5,000 and $10,000 a year who own their own homes. It is obvious that, with the cost of living and their incomes, their homes are going to continue to deteriorate. They cannot afford to maintain them, install proper heating, proper electrical systems, or the insulation in respect of which the government suggests we are saving a million dollars a year in energy.

The majority of people living in small Newfoundland communities own their own homes. Most of these are old homes built in accordance with the standards of the time. A great many of them are 30 to 50 years old and were built without any of the facilities that today are taken for granted. A high percentage of these homes are without inside water, inside toilets, baths or showers, without central heating and, indeed, with little or no insulation.

The provincial planning task force on housing in Newfoundland knows that with regard to facilities our housing stocks in the province lag well behind those in the rest of the Atlantic region. Many of those homes are owned by low income and welfare families who do not have the financial resources to make the necessary improvements or generally upgrade their homes to minimum standards of safety and comfort.

I have raised this subject on a number of occasions since the program came into effect. For example, last year with the number of homes that needed repairs in Newfoundland we only received $600,000 under the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program in respect of rural and native housing. I understand this year there will only be $700,000. The number of loans has increased and grants have gone up to $3,750. They could be increased to $10,000, but what good would it do, as no one is getting anything as a result of a lack of funds? I hope the very fine parliamentary secretary will give me an answer in that regard.

October 19, 1976

Adjournment Debate

If I have a few more moments I should like to refer again to a survey done by the provincial command of the Canadian Legion on behalf of veterans, a survey which was financed by the government two or three years ago. The survey was done in an excellent manner. We found there were 2,075 veterans or widows who require repairs to their homes but because of the restricted allowances on their pensions they cannot afford them.

Yesterday I saw it reported in the newspapers that the government says it is saving $1 billion on conservation of energy. With the high price of fuel-to which reference was made in the previous question-the high price of electricity, the high price of heating homes, the many thousands of homes owned by Canadians in the lower income brackets, think what the saving would be in energy, fuel and the cost of heating oil if these homes could be insulated and repairs done, and think how much money these people could save, money which they cannot afford to put into repairs, insulation, and maintenance of their homes.

I hope the parliamentary secretary will be able to throw more light on the subject and will be able to say more than was disclosed by the minister last Friday.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   HOUSING-POSSIBILITY OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR REHABILITATION OF EXISTING UNITS
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State for Urban Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State for Urban Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Humber-St. George's-St. Barbe (Mr. Marshall) has raised a question about the progress of the Residential Rehabilitation Program at an opportune time. I am pleased that he has done so since this is one of the most successful programs currently in operation under the National Housing Act. I might tell the hon. member also that this is of particular interest to my riding in which I can identify three areas falling under RRAP. We had some difficulties with the budget this year, but we succeeded in finding the money and solving most of the acute problems there.

The capital budget allocation of Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in designated areas and for non-profit projects for 1976, was set at $37 million early in the year. The performance of this successful program has been such that, by September 30, more than $29 million had been committed, or 80 per cent of the total allocation. Such has been the success of the program, in fact, that funds were reallocated to it at the beginning of this month.

The budget allocation for residential rehabilitation under the Rural and Native Housing Program is $12.1 million. Of this, $6.6 million had been committed by the end of last week.

Three years ago a grant under Part V of the NHA was made available to the Newfoundland-Labrador Command Royal Canadian Legion to provide financial assistance for a survey of conditions under which veterans in the province of Newfoundland were living. The survey was completed in May, 1975, and a report submitted to the provincial government and to the minister. A meeting was held in January between representatives of CMHC, the Newfoundland Housing Corporation, and the Canadian Legion. It was indicated at that time that, since a special NHA program is not available to veterans, about half the units surveyed could fall under the rural rehabilitation program. In September, a provincial order in council designated all areas in the province, except urban areas, for residential rehabilitation under this program. Negotiations are under way with the provincial housing agency for its delivery, and a meeting is being held in St. John's tomorrow morning to select the high priority areas in which the program would have immediate applicability.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   HOUSING-POSSIBILITY OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR REHABILITATION OF EXISTING UNITS
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LIB

Denis Éthier (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier):

Order, please. The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.

At 10.30 p.m. the House adjourned, without question put, pursuant to Standing Order.

Wednesday, October 20, 1976

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   HOUSING-POSSIBILITY OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR REHABILITATION OF EXISTING UNITS
Permalink

October 19, 1976