Jacques LAVOIE

LAVOIE, Jacques

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Hochelaga (Quebec)
Birth Date
November 4, 1936
Deceased Date
January 20, 2000
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Lavoie
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=2fbd30bb-8b42-47bc-a7f4-f315cff7b484&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
public servant, radiology technician

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1975 - June 13, 1977
PC
  Hochelaga (Quebec)
June 14, 1977 - March 26, 1979
LIB
  Hochelaga (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 26)


March 1, 1979

Mr. Lavoie:

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to address myself to a certain point and I will do so briefly, of course. We know that the National Housing Act allows any home owner to apply for a grant to repair his house. So what happens in my riding and obviously in others is that people go to Montreal, more particularly on St. Paul Street, to apply for grants and are told: "Sure you will get a grant, but it will take a year and a half before you are paid". Considering that everyone in my constituency is not a millionaire, people get discouraged and forget about the grant. Meanwhile the whole neighbourhood is deteriorating. I invite any of my colleagues from this House who are interested to come and spend one day in the riding of Hochelaga, in Maisonneuve or in Sainte-Marie to visit one street after another. We see more and more derelict houses. What happens then? We all know that a number of aged people live in slums although their pension is reasonable. But it turns out to be expensive for people living in slums. Indeed, medicare is higher because people get sick, heat is higher and so on and so forth. If those who were here before us in this House as well as in Quebec City and in Montreal had thought of the future we would certainly not have ended up with a situation where neighbourhoods like ours are disappearing. And I think that in the case of a ward like mine everything should be undertaken to protect it, not to protect it in a narrow sense but to revive it and keep the traditional image which it has always had and to give its inhabitants decent houses. I suggest that in this society which claims to be just and civilized, we should be able to demand from our governments decent housing and security for our people. I suggest also that if we fail to do so, we should not go and say to the faces of Canadians that we are civilized people, for I should be the first to deny it and say that on the contrary we are heartless people who do not care for our senior citizens.

Housing

Mr. Speaker, let us take the case of the low rent housing situation in Montreal. Last year the city of Montreal had a supply of 600 housing units to meet the demand of some 6,000 applicants. This supply represented only 10 per cent of the demand. 1 feel therefore that all interested parties should join hands to increase the number of units, and I am sure that some members in the opposition are afraid this bill will cost too much. Well, I have news for them. I shall not go into details, that would be too simple, Mr. Speaker; if they do not understand them, I hope the voters will take advantage of the forthcoming election to send them packing. It is not complicated. Mr. Speaker, when amounts of money are invested in non-profit corporations or co-ops, it is clear that after 25, 30, 40 or 50 years, they will say: "So what! In 30 years, the hon. member for Hochelaga will not be here any longer". It is true he will no longer be here. As a matter of fact, it is quite certain. But today, he is here. He is here to pave the way, like his hon. colleagues. That is what we are going to do, Mr. Speaker.

And you will see that all the figures which the opposition can produce are wrong, because we will invest in housing; after 30, 35 or 50 years non-profit corporations can make no profit whatsoever, and they will continue collecting rents which, after all, only represent contributions by the active member in the corporation. Then one-third of this amount can be paid to the city of Montreal and another third to the province of Quebec-and if they ever decide to separate and still want to co-operate, well, they will get a third of it-and the other third, of course, will go to the federal government. Then everybody will realize that housing, neighborhood improvement and other programs will pay for themselves. But first, of course, we have to invest. If we do not invest, the situation will clearly keep on deteriorating. That is for sure, Mr. Speaker, but I will have more to say about non-profit corporations.

The government has been very active in recent years. Let's take for example the old Montreal area with its harbour and grain elevators; the Minister of State for Urban Affairs (Mr. Ouellet) made a statement last year about it and work is already under way. No sooner said than done. Work has already started. Montrealers will be able to get close to the port, walk through the Vieux Montreal section, and see what is going on there. The federal government has invested plenty of money in that area. Members of the opposition may have forgotten that. I hope not but in any case, I am reminding them. Now, let us go back to last april. In my riding, there is what we call Place Frontenac, a complex consisting of three high rise 15-storey buildings. My office is now located in one of them. Of course, that was in 1971. At that time, I may not have been a member of the same party but today I am on the right side and all is going fine.

March 1, 1979

Housing

An hon. Mlember: You have learned.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
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March 1, 1979

Mr. Jacques Lavoie (Hochelaga):

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the opposition party will soon put an end to their foolish tricks to delay the proceedings in the House and will finally let us speak once and for all. I am therefore pleased to speak once again in the House, especially about Bill C-29 on housing. Since I have been sitting in the House, I have always been hoping for a housing policy governing corporations and nonprofit housing co-operatives. So I am quite pleased to see that

we are now considering amendments to the legislation which will allow us to fill some gaps and make improvements.

First, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate and thank the Minister of State for Urban Affairs (Mr. Ouellet) for having agreed to introduce this bill in parliament and 1 hope it will be passed before the next election. And before going further I have a short message to give to the Progressive Conservative party. They will probably be disappointed but I must say to them that I will be a candidate in the next election. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that this legislation will fill some gaps.

There are experiences that have been lived through. I remember that before I was elected to Parliament, when I was with the Workmen's Compensation Board, I used to take mornings or afternoons off to go to Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation to try to do something because in the district where I come from, in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Ste. Marie, St. Jacques, La Salle or even in Verdun, there certainly is a housing problem, it is obvious. Being conscious of these problems, like any good citizen having lived in slums, having lived what the people are living today, I thought I must do something.

There is a National Housing Act, so I will ask that the law be enforced and I will request a starting fun whose maximum is $10,000, as hon. members knows, or 10 per cent of the cost, as the case may be, just as my friend Mr. Joyal did in his riding. We have established non-profit corporations.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
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March 1, 1979

Mr. Lavoie:

You are right; I have learned. At that time, Mr. Speaker, I said that Place Frontenac was not an asset for the people of the Elochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. Over the years, there were many problems and it was nevertheless the Minister of Urban Affairs who had to bear the burden.

Last May, the minister announced a special policy for Place Frontenac so that senior citizens could at last get housing according to their income. I was pleased with the decision at that time. Now, that is a few weeks ago, Place Frontenac became the property of the tenants of those three 15-floor high rises, that is a non-profit corporation, which should certainly enable them to pay reasonable rents with the new policy of the government. Of course, Mr. Speaker, our constituents talk about low-rental housing. Of course, to them, low rental housing means extremely low rents. Building costs being what they are today, the situation has changed considerably. Anyway, I read in La Presse this week that the minister said the shelter allowance will cost between $450 million and $1 billion a year.

It is obvious that the provincial government was supposed to go along. In fact, last year, I met the minister's assistant in Montreal. Mind you, he did not want to see me. But when I told him: If you do not, the press will know about it, I do not know if he was scared but he said: Yes, I shall meet you. I discussed with him and at some point he simply said that it was the policy of his department to establish a shelter allowance. Fine. But he added: It is not the government's policy. So you immediately see the image projected by this government which does not want to co-operate and leaves old people in ghettos, which does not want to help us help them and also leaves families in ghettos. Again last night, Mr. Speaker, when I arrived at my constituency office I had lots of people and it lasted until 11.30 p.m. There again 1 had housing problems, people coming to me for help. They go and see their alderman who says: Go and see your member of parliament, he is going to fix all that. I understand perhaps, Mr. Speaker, that Brother Andre was performing miracles but I am Brother Jack who just rings the morning bells.

Mr. Speaker, we met a few times with the Montreal mayors conference which is now in session. We talked about urban transport because that falls under urban affairs. Well, obviously, if we want to improve the economic situation in eastern Montreal-I think, of course, that I asked the question and the answer was extremely logical and I understood it as an intelligent man-we will have to follow the situation closely to determine sooner or later, as I put it to the Minister of Transport some time ago, whether it would be possible to continue the Mirabel line as far as the Angus shops. There is a big vacant lot where 8,000 housing units could be built. There is a project by Marathon, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific, under which those units could be offered to nonprofit corporations and we could also have one of the biggest

shopping centres in Canada, and that shopping centre would operate on a co-operative basis.

Right now, according to the latest news, I am told they decided to make an industrial park out of the Angus shops and put up houses along the east-west expressway. So they are against it. I do not know if the whole world has turned topsy-turvy, but it is a fact, Mr. Speaker, that such a project with respect to the Angus plant would be very beneficial to building in the city of Montreal which is almost at a standstill. Jobs could be created in the building trades, and after the project is completed some 4,000 permanent new jobs could also be created, of which 3,000 at least do not require any special skill.

I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, to keep this in mind. Of course, this does not depend only on the federal government. I put this question before to the Minister of State for Urban Affairs (Mr. Ouellet). He agrees on this project. However, there is still the provincial government as well as the municipal government which controls zoning. Let us wait and see. Anyway, since we will meet with the Montreal executive council next Monday, I shall certainly raise the matter. So, I am referring to this in the House in the hope that the message will be relayed to the Quebec authorities, and as for Montreal, I will make sure to broach the subject next Monday. I usually make no bones about raising such matters.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to a point I mentioned rather briefly earlier. The rehabilitation or building of homes requires electricity, of course. Therefore I hope nobody will ever tell me some day that there is a shortage of electricity because I will start asking questions, namely whether there is still water running in the rivers. On the other hand, if we are successful, Mr. Speaker, we will have found a way of conserving energy. There is much talk about oil or other shortages. Well, if houses are electrically heated, we may then keep on using oil for other purposes as we do now and we will no longer have to worry about oil.

Mr. Speaker, people live in old houses that are not necessarily shacks. Everyone knows how much it costs to heat a home. Many families heat their homes with oil or natural gas besides electricity. Of course, this is costly! Obviously, in a constituency like the one I represent, when we consider that nearly half of the population is idle-and I hasten to add through no fault of theirs, Mr. Speaker-people have problems. In my area, we have suffered the consequences of the actions of some people, members of parliament like myself and my colleagues, who were there before us, especially in the Quebec government. We have seen nearly all the buildings on Notre-Dame Street being demolished, many businesses go bankrupt on Sainte-Catherine Street and many companies disappear. The poor guy who has lost his job and only has grade seven or eight is too old to go back to work after he has collected his unemployment insurance benefits and has to go on welfare. Imagine his problems when he finds himself in another tenement.

March 1, 1979

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is very important to be positive. Therefore I hope that if the opposition has certain amendments to suggest, they will do so now. This would be the time to do it while we are sitting in this House. We must not be content to criticize. For my part, I could criticize a lot of things if I wished, just like the opposition wants to do. I could criticize the minister and Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This is why I am here. But what is important is to suggest solutions. For my part, I have some to suggest and I hope that I will have the time to submit them before my time is up.

It is quite obvious that socially and economically, the amendments to this act concerning an increase in the number of non-profit organizations will be very useful. I hope that the city of Montreal and CMHC will "thaw out" as winter is almost over and we hope that the weather will be warm enough to "thaw them out". Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few suggestions. It is rather strange, but it has always been like that in my riding. An end should come to that farce one of these days.

Mr. Speaker, when you look after your house, you tell yourself that you will make it more congenial, more comfortable. Of course, whatever happens is not to be blamed on the federal government but rather on the municipal government. They come by and raise their property taxes. I could even mention something that occurred recently in my riding where a co-operative was set up. Last summer, those who had repaired their houses, put up lovely flower boxes, had their rent increased. They are really discouraged and ready to give up.

I make this suggestion which I will repeat next Monday before the executive committee of the city of Montreal. I make it here before parliament as the federal government might participate in this project. I think that in such cases, the municipality should, when a taxpayer wants to effect improvements to his house, whether it is in Montreal or in any other municipality in this country, grant him a tax rebate to encourage him to keep his older house, and also to promote a good neighbourhood spirit.

Besides, municipalities should raise their tax rates for those who do not want to upgrade their houses for one reason: in Montreal East, the majority of shabby and dilapidated houses are owned by trusts, multimillionaires, who will have nothing to do with our working poor or senior citizens. In the meantime, their taxes are next to nothing. But the small home owner who wants to join a co-op, do something, help, get involved in the life of his community what do we do to him? We tax him. So, I feel this would first prevent speculation, and second, it would force those big corporations to do something, because we know they hate losing a buck. They would rather sell at a discount than lose money. So this could be suggested to local authorities, and the Canadian government could contribute.

To enlighten the opposition, work out the figures correctly. They are not that high. This means that if those people pay less property tax, I mean the people who improve their houses,

Housing

and if the others pay more, it will even up. The Canadian government could contribute, and even the provincial government if they wanted to. So in the end this would not be that much more expensive. It is an investment, no more, no less, and whole urban areas would be saved.

Any way this sounds quite sensible to me, and I hope the suggestion will work its way through. The opposition may also bring other suggestions.

Mr. Speaker, there is another point I would like to make: We have non-profit corporations or co-operative housing corporations. For quite some time people going to the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation have been given a huge pile of papers. There is a table there, the references to two months or two months and a half. A time frame is provided. You do that voluntarily, you realize that? This is voluntary. But you are given a schedule, and it takes six months before you can consider renovating a house. Think how many houses will be built at that rate! This is not in the act, it is in the regulations put out by CMHC officials. I set up another non-profit corporation in my constituency, Hochelaga. I went to the Central Housing and Mortgage Corporation and I said: We are asking for starter funds; not me personally, I only sponsor the project since, as a member of parliament I am obviously not entitled to subsidies. So I said to them: Gentlemen, we are given only $500 to start; we are given instructions, so much for this, for that and for that. I said: Gentlemen, you are way off the ball. This makes no sense whatsoever. All I ask is that you apply the National Housing Act. It is there as clear as can be.

This makes me laugh, Mr. Speaker, because all these experiences are worth relating. This makes me laugh because you submit plans which you have to be redone over and over again. And this is an expensive process. I remember the first nonprofit corporation I created in Hochelaga. A building contractor kindly offered to lend a hand. He had to redo the plans a great many times. Imagine what that would have cost us, if he had charged each time, besides the shortfall of $50,000 at 8 per cent interest per annum. It was no piece of cake, Mr. Speaker. But there is another suggestion I would like to make. I have already suggested this to CHMC. We know that non-profit corporations hire building contractors or someone to oversee the whole project, award sub-contracts, etc.; these people pocket 20 per cent of the profits. I think that we could grant by means of the National Housing Act and its regulations a certain amount of money which would go to a person who would be called the project co-ordinator and who would manage the repairs and later find a responsible person who could hire subcontractors, and it could well cost 10 per cent instead of 20 per cent. Immediately, at that very moment, costs would be reduced, because it is important, Mr. Speaker, to be cautious. You must keep in mind that even though I say those things in relation to the administration of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act and its regulations I cannot entirely blame them, because they have to be careful and I will tell you why. I think that in this House I have a right to say certain things and it is my privilege to do it. I will

March 1, 1979

Housing

not mention any names. I will simply say that some people belonging to the organization of the Progressive Conservative party, who were part of my own organization at that time, did try to entice me into a gimmick involving $10,000 in pay-offs in connection with non-profit housing, and that I never accepted such offers. But it would seem that somebody got these $10,000. I even asked the RCMP to investigate but nothing could be done in that case. So I certainly hope that public interest will still be protected, but there should also be more flexibility and it should be possible, Mr. Speaker, to get housing to move faster because it is much too slow now. It is a never ending process.

What is happening now is that people working on a voluntary basis are discouraged by these procedures and stop working. The law is there to provide for everything needed, but appropriate formulas have to be found in co-operation with the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation to make housing procedures easier and faster. There is also an important point, probably one of the last, Mr. Speaker, about which I am very happy. It is obvious that the bill before the House is aimed at increasing the participation of the private sector, that is credit unions and banks, by allowing mortgages on non-profit housing.

Of course, through the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation the federal government will guarantee these loans up to 100 per cent. I intended to put a question to the minister, and I suppose that he expected it. I hope that with these guarantees the private sector will co-operate and will not have the nerve to turn down non-profit corporations. Certainly, it could say no to a corporation which is not serious, because the authorization of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation would still be needed. There are obviously many people working for the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It is not necessarily because of that that the process takes so much time. It is because when you go there with a document, it has to go through the hands of about eight people. They must obviously have enough time to examine it. But it seems to me it is possible to speed things up.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I urge the parties of the opposition to support this bill. Naturally, the government is open to any amendment to the bill; that is why we are here, to find solutions to problems. But, above all else I hope we will think of the old, of those among us who are less fortunate, who are in need of housing.

If, at some point, we could considerably increase the number of non-profitable corporations, if every hon. member in this House could set up that type of committee, in his riding, specifically to increase the number of housing corporations or co-operatives, I feel we could help one another speed up the construction of houses. Indeed, when you live in a house where you are cold, where you have to pay twice as much as others for heating, especially this year when winter has been rather severe, life is not easy for people.

I trust that the first goal of hon. members in this House is, first and foremost, to put the interest of all Canadians ahead

of party or personal interests. That is the wish I express for the benefit of all hon. members trusting they will do the same.

\ English]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
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March 1, 1979

Mr. Lavoie:

I apologize, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw what I said, but there are other members who have done what I just did. I hope things are restored. So then we needed this type of grant for rehabilitation purposes. Obviously this amendment will correct the situation, I am sure, but there is still one thing and that is that CMHC officials do not want to co-operate. 1 want to relate to the House, as I did a few years ago in committee, something which actually happened. If we had been listened to, not only me but also certain CMHC officials, we might not have today in Hochelaga a vacant $50,000 lot, at 8 per cent interest a year, which CMHC has to recover and add to its assets and liabilities. Of course, we were thinking of senior citizens, families, we wanted to develop low rental housing, but at the time that was not possible, because things were going too slow. It took at least two years to build a unit.

Two out of six units were occupied during a period of a year and a half. Why? Because costs were too high and because of

March 1, 1979

the slowness not only of CMEIC, but also of the city of Montreal, because there are regulations, the National Building Code, the Municipal Building Code, all of which create confusion and slow things down. Building costs increase and in the end, what can we offer people? Not low rental housing, but high price housing.

Naturally, I do not blame the minister for that. Nor do I blame the National Elousing Act: it is just there. But what happens too often is that those who administer the act are obsessed with setting up regulations that often run counter to our wishes as legislators, I feel we must some day find a way, when we pass a law, not to be exposed to being laughed at later on by the people or the civil servants who say: Sure, you are the legislators but come the next election and you may no longer be there while we will still be here. Those are the answers we get, Mr. Speaker. But it does not matter, these people need not worry because after the next election we will still be here on this side of the House. That I can guarantee.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
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March 1, 1979

Mr. Lavoie:

Mr. Speaker, this concerns housing.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NATIONAL HOUSING ACT
Full View Permalink