April 4, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth

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


Just a moment; a little later I have a suggestion to advance. But, first, what are the minister's suggestions? One is that we should encourage the tourist trade; at least that is the suggestion which the minister takes over from the commission. Further, the commission suggests that we could sell articles to tourists at reduced rates. Well, now, is that to be one of the important parts of the relief program, to bring about the solution of the unemployment problem in this country; to encourage tourists and sell things to them? I suppose if we build enough highways, we could place all the unemployed along them and set them to work selling trinkets to the tourists; probably the trinkets would be made in Japan, but of course they would be made to look, like Indian souvenirs. Really, I do ask the minister whether he is serious in telling us that for the solution of these things we have to depend upon the development of the tourist traffic. Are we to be employed largely in selling little things to tourists; are we to become a nation of wayside shopkeepers and hotelkeepers? Is that our ambition for this country? Surely the minister has not made much of a case for the policy of the government in developing the industries of the country, developing its natural resources and putting the Dominion of Canada on a self-reliant basis.
A moment ago an hon. member asked for a suggestion. I offer this, as a bare suggestion : The minister himself has emphasized the advisability of more housing. I think that is quite correct. It serves two purposes: It provides for the needs of the people-

and we have need for more housing from coast to coast-further, it is generally conceded that almost immediately a large number of mechanics are employed. There is no one policy which would stimulate general activity more than increased activity in the building trade.
The commission has given some consideration to the low-rent housing scheme. I urge the government to consider it more carefully. The minister was very cautious in his statement; he said some such scheme was being considered. But wie want something more than long term "consideration." We have had a commission, and we have heard its advice. Many of us would now like to have action! What the people want is not more commissions, more bureaux, more research; what they want, above all, is work,-work! And the government must give that work.
Some one may say: Why do the people not look out for their own jobs? We grew up in a pioneering country, where it was possible for a man to find a job for himself. But to-day I believe that with the exception of the farming industry about 85 per cent of all people who work for a living are working for somebody else.
Who must provide work? The people who have money say they cannot invest their money in productive enterprises so as to bring in a profit; so they are investing in bonds, if they can, or their money is lying idle. Under these circumstances it seems to me the government will have to step in and provide for the housing of the people, or set up other schemes of a similar kind.
The minister referred to the SI5.000.000. the amount which I believe was put into the home improvement plan last year by the government. But that plan touched only the middle-class people; it did not touch the people who most needed homes. It did not provide for the clearance of slums which have existed for twenty-five years in Montreal, in Saint John, in Toronto-in almost all our cities. I would suggest that the government could not do better than place an estimate before the house for something like 8100,000.000 for slum clearance, and the provision of low rent housing. Someone laughs! What is wrong with that? If last year we could provide
836,000,000 for national defence and $34,000,000 this year-some of it to be spent on useless armouries-I wonder why we cannot provide 8100,000,000 to house our people and to provide work for the unemployed.
When I think of the enormous sums which have been spent in Canada for relief pur-

Relief and Agricultural Distress
poses, just thrown away, as it were, I wonder why we could not have some return! Somebody may ask: Where shall we find the money? I think it would be comparatively easy to find the money. Half that amount could be easily obtained through added income tax on incomes in the higher brackets. The minister says: Let the people tax themselves still further. I suggest that we impose a tax which would bear more heavily on those people best able to pay. And if the government do not wish to provide the other
S50,000,000 in this way, then I would suggest that they might provide it by issuing new money.

Full View