February 10, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)


Yes, and paying high rates of interest. I shall touch upon that point later. As I see it, the difficulty has been that the municipality has had only two sources of taxation, one property and the other income. In their wisdom, some of the provinces have seen fit to take from the municipalities the power to tax income, and hence the whole burden of taxation in the municipality is today almost a direct tax upon real property. Unless some readjustment is made with respect to taxation between municipalities and provinces, I say seriously that in my opinion a tremendous number of urban and suburban municipalities cannot possibly survive. I realize that is not a problem for this parliament, but I suggest that in any scheme which may be considered or brought down by the Minister of Finance or the government, we should be careful to make sure that by legislation we do not place any additional burden by way of property tax on the home owner in a municipality.
May I illustrate how such a burden could be created. Let us assume that a scheme has been in effect, and that to-morrow we go into municipality A to build one hundred or one thousand new homes. In all probability the streets which we would lay out and upon which we would build the homes would not have local improvements. The new houses would have to be serviced with water service, sewers, roadways and sidewalks. In Ontario and, I believe, in two other provinces only a proportion of the cost of those new local improvements would be assessed against the house receiving the benefit. A proportion of the cost of local improvements, usually about twenty-five per cent, is spread over the whole municipality, and creates an additional burden upon the man who already owns a home in the municipality.
I believe it is incumbent upon the house to take care that in legislation we do not create an additional burden. This afternoon the minister outlined the progress being made under the Dominion Housing Act. A few days ago he indicated his hopes and aspirations as to what might be accomplished in providing employment through the new measure for the renovation of homes. I am thoroughly confident that neither of these measures will meet with the success I believe the minister anticipates. I say they will not for two reasons: One, that literally thousands

Housing Policy-Mr. Lawson
of people in Canada are losing homes they now have and, two, the burden of direct property tax. which I have already mentioned.
To a great extent Canada is a nation of home owners. In looking over the most recent census figures, I was surprised to observe that of all urban and suburban householders in Canada in 1931 approximately 47 per cent were home owners. In my own province of Ontario, of all suburban and urban house holders approximately 52J per cent are home owners. It is for these people that I plead with the minister this afternoon. In literally hundreds of cases working men in Canada have purchased or built homes in days when they had full pay envelopes and a reasonable measure of prosperity. In many cases that was done by dint of frugal living, saving and hard work. Then came the depression. Because of diminishing pay envelopes and, in some instances, envelopes which ceased to be received, and by reason of heavy municipal taxation plus a high interest rate to which reference was made by the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Factor), hundreds of these people have lost their homes, and thousands to-day are in danger of losing them. In many instances interest rates ran as high as seven or eight per cent. I suggest that it is not going to avail us much if we clean up one slum only to create another, and I urge that in any scheme under consideration, care should be taken of those home owners who are likely to lose their homes.
I am not so sure that the suggestion made by the hon. member for Jacques-Cartier is feasible. However, if I may, I should like to make one, although the minister may not think my suggestion is feasible.

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