And his wife and children should not be forgotten.
I shall refer only briefly to family allowances because Mr. Speaker would rule me out of order if I dwelt upon that subject, but the minister made reference to it in his budget speech. I accuse the Minister of Finance of stealing some of our platform. I am also going to accuse him of calling this provision family allowances and of paying these allowances under a system that should not be in existence. We advocate a dividend for all, paid with debt-free money. The minister advocates allowances for children up to a certain age, and paid for either with debt money or by taxation. His proposal amounts only to a redistribution of the poverty we still have in this country. The programme is not wide enough, and, when the minister studies things a little longer, I believe he will see that there is a better way of putting his plan into effect.
I consider that the old age pensioners have been neglected. A short time ago an amendment was made to the regulations to permit an old age pensioner to earn up to $125 a year without any deduction being made from his $25 a month pension. When a man or woman reaches seventy years of age there should not be any restrictions on the amount of money he or she may earn because, if they are ambitious and strong enough after all those years of toil to go on working, they should be free to earn all they can without affecting the amount of their pension which should be 150 a month at sixty.
Another problem that we have in this country is our educational system, and perhaps there is a reason for keeping it in existence. The taxes imposed on business are always charged back to the farmer, so that
the farmer is the basic taxpayer of the country, and he is overridden by taxation at the present time. Our municipalities and provincial governments cannot supply an adequate system of education under our present taxation system, and if we want competent teachers to stay in the teaching profession grants will have to be made by the dominion government to the provinces and these grants will have to be administered by the provinces in the interests of Canada as a whole. Our educational standard is not high enough. It is better perhaps than in some other countries;: but why compare a poor system of education with one that is poorer? The best that we could have is none too good for Canada, particularly when Canada could well afford a better educational system if only our affairs were properly managed.
Some proposals have been brought down with respect to a health programme. These are long overdue. I should like to see different means brought about for financing these health services. Of course, I am well aware that the health services ane yet only on paper and that it may be some time before they are a reality, but I hope we do not have to wait long for these health services, which Canada can well afford to put into operation.
I come now to agriculture. I must not forget that, particularly because the Minister of Finance has given the farmers some consideration in this budget. In his budget speech at page 4184 of Hansard I find this:
Canadian agriculture will he faced with important opportunities in the post-war period and if it is to take full advantage of them, its costs of production should he at the lowest practicable level. Recognition of this fact was given by the farm improvement loans hill and several important provisions of the bill for the extension of the bank charters now under consideration by the banking and commerce committee. These measures have as one of their most important objectives the provision of credit facilities to farmers which will enable-them to purchase agricultural implements at: the lowest cost on a cash basis. With the same end in view, the government believes it appropriate to provide at once and without waiting for the completion of reciprocal arrangements with other countries for the removal of all customs duties on agricultural implements. It is therefore recommended that agricultural machinery, including cream separators, and parts thereof, be made free under all tariffs. While if is impracticable from a revenue standpoint to remove the war exchange tax on the general range of commodities, the war exchange tax on agricultural machinery and cream separators and parts thereof is being removed, along with the customs duties.
On behalf of farmers all over Canada I say t* the minister, "Thank you for removing those custom duties and the war exchange tax". I feel that they should- never have been put.
The Budget-Mr. Fair
on. I do not think there was any excuse for it. Agriculture was down in the gutter and being stepped on right along, and those things are just further impositions to keep the farmers down where they should not be.
In connection with credit facilities to purchase farm implements, the rate of interest in the past was too high; it is still too high; and any benefits which may accrue through the farm improvement loan bill can speedily be offset by an increase in the prices of the implements we have to buy. It is my belief that the implement business has been a racket for a number of years. My suspicions were confirmed by the committee which, I think in 1938, investigated) the farm implement business. So that if the government would see to it that unnecessary profits were not reaped from this business it would do agriculture a great service. I feel also that the farmers are being turned over once again to the bankers, with part of the credit guaranteed' by the government, so that we can see where the government's friends come in.
I am glad that the Minister of Agriculture <IMr. Gardiner) is in his place. I have here [DOT]quite a few figures which support statements [DOT]made by me on several occasions that the farmers are being robbed through prevailing prices for their agricultural produce. This government came into office in 1935. They
were in full control of prices during the crop years 1935-36 to 1942-43 inclusive, and farmers did not live any too prosperous a life during that period. I admit that at the moment conditions are better than they were in 1935; but why should one be expected to compare conditions which are not up to standard with poorer conditions? In 1935-36 the farmers of Canada marketed 216,273,373 bushels of grain at a price of 874 cents a bushel. Had we received what we were entitled to, the price paid would have been $1.60; that is, if we were given the same treatment as organized labour, and who will argue that we are not entitled to similar consideration? I am stating this because organized labour was allowed the highest level of wages between 1926 and 1929. Using the 1926 to 1929 figure for fixing our parity price-and I do not agree that that is the proper period to be taken for this purpose- we should have received $1.41 a bushel for our wheat. This means that upon that crop alone we did not receive $116,579,373 to which we were justly entitled. That is based on the 1926-29 period, when the farmers received 16-6 per cent of the national income, although constituting approximately one-third of the total population. In tabulated form the figures of wheat sales for the crop years 1935-36 to 1942-43 are as follows:
Year Bushels sold Price Suggested parity Amount not received1935-36 216,273,373 [DOT] 87J $1.41 $116,579,3731936-37 165,628,731 1.22 32,087,3221937-38 125,471,078 1.31 12,913,5331938-39 290,539,457 .80 179,189,4171939-40 427,312,750 .70 306,740,9471940-41 458,382,611 .70 329,093,7411941-42 227,854,572 .70 164,590,3781942-43 268,219,159 .90 139,403,292Less wheat board payments $1,280,598,003 60,000,000Loss to farmers based on $1.41 per bushel.. $1,220,598,003
So that when some people tell us that the farmers are living in clover during the war years, I say that such people had better study the problem all over again. The figures I have given cover wheat only; if we go into other products, here are some prices to which we are justly entitled but which we are not getting. In the case of oats-based again on the same terms for labour-we should receive 69 cents a bushel, and we are receiving 61| cents. For other products the corresponding figures are: barley, 79| cents instead of 90 cents; flax, $2.75 instead of $3. Again let me point out that if we were getting parity prices
the figures should be based on the period 1915-19'instead of 1926-29. In the fourth year of the last war wheat averaged $2.24 a bushel, and up to the present time our high price this year is $1.25. Perhaps I should quote the prices for the various crop years: in 1935-36 874 cents; in 1936-37 $1.22; that is on the open market, there being no wheat board purchases; 1937-38, $1.31 on the open market. In 1938-39 the initial price of wheat dropped down to 80 cents. In 1939-40 we were threatened at first with a price of 60 cents a bushel, which would have netted farmers for the top grade of wheat a little over 40 cents, but this was finally
raised to 70 cents. In 1940-41 and 1941-42 the price of 70 cents was maintained. In 1942-43, after more than 400 farmers and other business representatives came from the western provinces to interview the government, the price was raised to 90 cents; and only last September, for the crop year 1943-44 the price was increased to $1.25, guaranteed.
For the purpose of computing income tax a five-year instead of a two-year period should be used, because there are plenty of ups and downs in the farming industry. While a farmer might break even or even make a little profit in one or two years, over five years he might experience a considerable loss.
Another question, which I believe is receiving the consideration of the Department of National Revenue, is that of taxation on payments we are getting from the wheat board on the 1940-1941 and 1942 crops. I notice that the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Gibson) is present. I would point out to him that we farmers, while waiting for our money from the wheat board, were paying interest on debts which should have been discharged with this wheat board money, also paying storage on the grain and interest on the initial payment. During the years 1940, 1941 and 1942, income taxes were much lower than they are at present, and it would be entirely unjust to require the farmers to pay the high rate of tax which prevails on incomes at the present time. I understand that the committee is working on this matter, and I hope the point I have raised will be taken into consideration. Last year I asked the Minister of Finance to exempt farmers entirely from the income tax brackets until the injustices that prevail are removed. He did not see fit to do so, and I am renewing that request to-day.
There are other things that are not satisfactory. For instance, there is hog grading. We had a change of system which is very good, but it is not working out in dollars and cents from the point of view of the farmer. Someone near by says that it has been fixed up for him as a start. That may be another way of fooling the farmers a little longer. The packers who finally handle the hogs when they are ready are guaranteed the full amount of profits, and the farmer gets what is left, or a certain share of it.
There are other things to be fixed up and I trust the Minister of Agriculture will see to it that a number of them are attended to. The same thing is going on in connection with the beef cattle market. The farmers are not satisfied with the services that are being rendered. Wool prices are in the same unsatisfactory condition. While last year the minister made
1, 1944 4451
The Budget-Mr. Fair
comparisons with prices paid in the United States, his argument did not hold very much water, because he was arguing on the basis of our wool being shipped to the United States and sold there. My argument is that there is no reason why our wool in Canada should not bring as good a price here as United States producers receive there for their wool, because in most cases they buy at a better price than we are allowed to buy at.
We are told that when we have legislation providing floor prices under agricultural products everything will be all right. I can agree with that, provided that the floor is placed at the proper level. If it is placed in the basement, or if the basis for fixing prices is taken on what prevailed during the depression years, in 1932, for example, when farmers received five per cent of the national income, then we might as well have no floor. We have to get to the point where the farmers will have their proper share of the national income before we shall have a proper adjustment basis. In that connection I might say that we have on the order paper a resolution which has been standing there since February 7 in the name of the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston) as follows:
Whereas agriculture has seldom received its fair share of the national income of Canada;
And whereas the cost of producing all agricultural products varies considerably from year to yoELr *
Therefore be it resolved,-That, in the opinion of this 'house and in the interest of the nation as a whole, the government be requested to set the prices of agricultural products at such a level that it will guarantee to the farmers of Canada such a yearly percentage of the national income as will have the same relation to the national income as the agricultural population bears to the national population of Canada.
On these grounds I believe we shall get that which is properly coming to us, but while we continue to figure on some false foundation there is no possibility in the world of Canada becoming the nation it should be. There is no reason either why the farmer should be treated as the poor relation. The farmers are finally waking up to the fact that they are not receiving just treatment. Perhaps that is why our Saskatchewan friends cannot agree with the reading of speeches in the house or even speeches delivered in any other way by some hon. members, because the farmers of that province not very long ago told the government in very plain terms that they were not satisfied and that something had to be done. When I say that I do not mean that the farmers of Saskatchewan and the businessmen out there voted for socialism. They were simply not satisfied with the machine they had. They did
not think it was giving them what they wanted and they thought they would break the machine and then get the necessary changes. I believe the farmers of Saskatchewan want security with freedom just as the rest of us do, and perhaps in the very near future we shall have things built up in that province on a more satisfactory basis.
Dealing again with the old soldier settler problem, I suggest that we have to continue pressing for this, particularly because of certain articles that appeared in the Legionary, the official organ of the Canadian Legion. I have seen the May issue, which contained a bitter attack upon the requests that have been and are being made by soldier settlers for clear titles to their land. It was written by a civil servant of the government, who, I understand, went to the legion convention and got in his work there. He wandered into a committee room where a committee was dealing with the resolution on soldier settler business, and burnt-out veterans, and said that he hoped he was not intruding. When the facts are known I think it will be seen that he was intruding and that he is not wanted by the soldier settlers of Canada.
I cannot place all the blame on this particular civil servant. The minister in charge has to accept his responsibility also, and if the Veterans Land Act which is being administered at the present time is to be a success, then the business of the old Soldier Settlement Act and the Veterans' Land Act must be removed from the charge of the Minister of Mines and Resources and a different man put in as director. I am quite satisfied that we shall not and cannot have a satisfactory administration while the present set-up exists there.
At six o clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock. PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic: THE BUDGET