Mr. T. J. Kickham (Kings):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to join with hon. members who have preceded me in this debate in extending my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Hanna) and the seconder (Mr. Robichaud) for the [Mr. McBain.}
splendid contributions they have made in opening the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne.
I wish first to express my thanks on behalf of the people of my county for the public works program carried on in my county and to thank the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) for the new construction of the Georgetown railway wharf, and the construction of a new frost-proof potato warehouse on the wharf, replacing the now obsolete warehouse this coming season.
A great deal has been accomplished in the dredging of harbours, thus deepening the waterways to give sufficient draft for fishing boats to reach the wharves and also in new construction on breakwaters and wharves. All this work was necessary in order to assist fishermen and farmers in carrying on successfully their respective industries. There still remain numerous requests for similar work to be carried out at many fishing centres, and I am always fervently hoping and asking that those requests will be met through sufficient money appropriations. I realize, however, that we cannot expect to have everything done all at once, as a government can only spend money in keeping with their annual revenue from year to year. I can say to the minister that we are thankful for the recognition and the appreciation he has acknowledged of our need in regard to assisting fishermen and farmers in the prosecution of their daily pursuits.
Our farmers and fishermen suffer greatly because of the continuous freight rate tariff increases, and of course this applies to the four Atlantic provinces particularly because of our geographical location in Canada. Long hauls mean that we are without the truck transport competition enjoyed by the central provinces, with accompanying lower freight tariff rates to remedy this discrimination. I would suggest to the government that if they compensated the railways for the increases in freight tariff rates, amounting to over 100 per cent since 1945, especially on our major products such as coal, potatoes and fish, this action would assist the economy of the Atlantic provinces greatly.
As each of those three are bulky products and as the present freight rates bear heavily on those industries, I would also urge that the feed grain freight assistance as well as the Maritime Freight Rates Act be restored to its former effectiveness before the horizontal increase in freight rates took place. To my mind there is no better measure that the government could decide upon to assist the economy of the Atlantic provinces than to absorb a large portion of freight rate tariffs on our products going to central Canada. This
would give us the most direct and immediate relief and the greatest encouragement, and would be equal to a blood transfusion to our economy. The ever-increasing freight rates are a terrific burden on us and do not allow us to compete on equal terms.
It has been said that any depressed area in Canada reflects itself on the whole economy of Canada. I believe this statement to be true. I believe I have suggested one obvious way of mitigating our economic difficulties, at least to some extent.
Many farmers in our province in need of funds to finance their farm operations find it most difficult to procure a loan through the Canadian farm loan board because of the high level of security required before a loan is approved. The Canadian Farm Loan Act has been in operation for the past 27 years and provides for only 14 per cent of all farm loans in Canada. The losses sustained since its inception have been insignificant. To assist farmers in acquiring loans the security required should be reduced by 25 per cent. If this were done, many applicants who are now ineligible could become qualified and could take advantage of the interest rates and amortization provisions for which the act provides. A decrease in the amount of security required, in line with my suggestion, would permit greater latitude to be exercised by the district supervisors and would give the act more flexibility. At present it is far too restrictive in character. It would seem that the length of time which elapses from the date of application until appraisals are made on the farm properties is entirely too long. Apparently some district offices are understaffed and, through no fault of the district supervisor, the applicant becomes frustrated because of the extremely long waiting period.
This Canadian farm loan board could be made the best loan agency in Canada, but it must cast off much of its security requirements. I trust that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) will broaden out this legislation and make its lending facilities reach out to supply the borrowing needs of many more farmers than it does at the present time.
I should like to say a word on veterans pensions. Many veterans who served in the first world war but who did not go beyond England are not eligible for the war veterans allowance. The same thing applies in the second world war in respect of veterans who did not serve outside of Canada and Newfoundland. Some of those veterans voluntarily would have gone overseas but, because of special qualifications, they were retained in Canada. They are now denied war veterans allowance by our legislation.
The Address-Mr. J. A. Smith
My suggestion to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Lapointe) is to grant to all veterans reaching the age of 60 years $40 per month, in the same way as all citizens reaching the age of 70 automatically receive $40 per month. Forty dollars per month should be of great assistance to many veterans who find themselves in distressing financial circumstances.
Our fishing industry is most important in my province. The provincial and federal departments concerned are co-operating in splendid work in research and applying scientific methods to the catching of fish and also to the manner of processing the fish.
I should like to see the cold storage and refrigeration legislation broadened so that packers and processors would become eligible to receive subsidies for the construction of refrigeration plants. Refrigeration is now an absolute necessity and if the packers and processors were given assistance they would be able to provide this necessity. Often they are unable to provide refrigeration out of their own resources, and any assistance granted is of benefit to each individual fisherman.
Before concluding my remarks I wish to thank the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Sinclair) and his parliamentary assistant (Mr. Mac-Naught) for the splendid work they did at my request in allowing quahaugs to be removed from polluted waters in Queen's county, transferred to the beaches of King's county for cleansing purposes and reclaimed for processing in King's county. I am not going into detail about the difficulties the minister met, but I do know there were many barriers to hurdle because of health regulations both in Canada and the United States. In this respect we had the fullest co-operation from the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin). I shall defer any further remarks on fisheries until the minister's estimates are before the committee.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY