April 28, 1949 (20th Parliament, 5th Session)


William Alexander McMaster

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. A. McMaster (High Park):

Mr. Speaker, in the next five minutes I hope to present a grievance which is not at all political or partisan in its nature, but is one that affects a great many people, and will come to the fore in the next few days. I refer to one of the orders issued by the rental control division of the wartime prices and trade board. In its origin it was order 793,
I believe, but it has been consolidated in order 800 as rule 15 (a). This order refers to the six months' notice which has to be given by owners who were owners prior to the first of November, 1947, and it follows another order in which the question of greater need arose. Under the prior order a man with a
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wife and two children could get possession of a home from a tenant with a wife and one child.
It is true that in the new order the word "need" appears, but it seemed so unimportant that no one thought it had any significance, especially as there was already the rule which spoke of greater need. A form had to be made out, an affidavit had to be made out, a statement of the time when the owner purchased the property, and all that was said after that information was given was that the owner needed the house. The owner took for granted that, since he had bought the house, and since he was living in a rented house, there was every reason why he should get his home, and that he would not be forced to show special need of any kind.
After these notices were given in the month of October last, some of which will expire on the last day of April or the first day of May, it became apparent that the word "need" had some significance, and the question arose as to how much significance. I can generally settle matters with the officials of the different departments, but in this case I cannot find out from the rental control division of the wartime prices and trade board what the word "need" means. No yardstick is fixed. If you own your own home, how badly do you have to need it? If there was the question of greater need you would understand it. If there was any yardstick fixed you could understand it, but no lawyer and no other person can say to anyone who has given such a notice whether or not he will get possession of his own house on the last day of April or the first day of May until the matter has gone before one of the county courts of the province of Ontario, or the appropriate courts in other provinces.
Perhaps by prearrangement, perhaps by all deciding what would be the best thing to do, or possibly by each expressing his own idea of what need is, and the amount of need that is required, the judges will decide these matters. It is a matter that should be settled ahead of time. Perhaps never in the history of Canada has there been so much trouble and so much ill feeling created unnecessarily as in the use and exercise of rental controls. It would seem to me that at this late date the rental control board might take some means of making everything so clear that landlords and tenants would know their rights without having to go to court to find out what they are.
I strongly urge on the government that in the next few days some rule should be established as to the amount of need that is necessary, and thus enable landlords and tenants to know ahead of time, without having to go to court, whether possession can be

secured. I know that it is very late to bring up this matter. It has been taken up with the rental control board, but they have not done anything. I think the people of Canada are entitled to expect something better than that. We do not agree with all the orders that have been made. In fact, some of them are very bad. We have heard in the last few days about the exorbitant rents that have been charged. I have heard of cases where $50 or $60 a month is being charged for one room. By a very simple statement, a very simple order, the government could say that there will be a ceiling of some kind on the rents that can be charged.
The unfortunate part of the whole matter is that some people are paying $25 a month for a six-room house, and other people are paying $20 a week for one room in a house. That is discrimination of the very worst kind; there is a great deal of dissatisfaction, and rightly so. The whole matter could be settled very quickly if the rental control board, under instructions from the government, would deal with the situation in a manner that was consistent and would do justice to both landlords and tenants. I hope that in the next few days, notwithstanding the great haste as to certain election matters, the government will face the issue, because if they do not they will have to assume whatever responsibility may arise by their failure to deal with this comparatively simple matter.

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