Hon. JAMES MALCOLM (North Bruce):
I do not wish to engage the time of the house for more than a moment, but I should like to call to the attention of the minister that probably we have heard less of the fishing industry in Ontario in the great lakes district simply because the fishing industry in this province is under the jurisdiction of the Ontario government. The hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough (Mr. Duff) and the hon. member for Comox-Albemi (Mr. Neill) have suggested some amendments to the bill as it applies to the Atlantic and Pacific coast fisheries. If aid is to be given by the state to the fishermen on the great lakes, I should like to suggest to the minister that his bill does not really cover the present needs of the situation. Most of the fishermen on the great lakes do not own any great quantity of commercial land, they are in much the same position as that indicated by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni. Their shanties may be on government land or they may have leased property. In many cases their commercial buildings are on government docks, so that the value of commercial property which they could offer by way of security to the minister for an advance is negligible. Most of the commercial fishermen on the great lakes sell their fish fresh; their commodity is delivered to the market probably more rapidly than- is the fish of the maritime provinces or of the Pacific coast. The greatest need of the fishermen on the great lakes is when disaster overtakes them, when by an act of God several gangs of nets are lost in one of the storms which are so frequent on the great lakes.
I should like to point out to the minister that the fisherman who has some security can secure from the bank a loan to pay cash for his gear, and in that case he is really not in need of much governmental assistance. Those who are not so favourably situated could be greatly assisted by a government loan, but that loan would really be for the purchase of new gear, new gangs of nets, new engines for boats and repairs to existing vessels. I think the bill should be so worded in so far as the great lakes are concerned that the loans should be made on gear and equipment for the reason that while the fisherman may own residential property for his home, he does not as a rule own much commercial property.
The second point in connection with these loans is the matter of the amount. I think the limiting of the amount to SI,000 rather destroys the effectiveness of the legislation. One does not gather together very much gear for seine fishing for 81,000. Four or five gangs of nets cost much more than 81,000; it is not much of a hull to weather the storms of the great lakes that you can buy for that amount. I suggest to the minister that if he has good inspection, and loans be made only to the amount of fifty per cent on gear, he could well afford to increase the amount to some much higher figure.
Then I am against long term loans on fishing equipment. The rate of depreciation on it is probably more rapid than on any other sort of industrial equipment. Boats wear out very quickly, nets rot very, quickly. Practically all the gear used by fishermen has to be replaced every few years. If a loan is made to a fisherman I would suggest that it be for a short term or even repayable in instalments over the period in which he would normally redeem his securities were they given to a bank or loan company. I think I voice the opinion of all members who are familiar with the fishing industry in Georgian bay and lake Huron and lake Superior when I say that we could be of great assistance to those fishermen by providing cash advances to restore gear or to purchase new gear. But I do not think they want such loans for twenty-five years, or even five years. All they would ask would be loans repayable in instalments every three or six months out of their earnings from the gear purchased with the proceeds of the loan. Another point, raised by the hon. member for Comox-Albemi, I think is deserving of consideration, namely, that it is not the course of wisdom to encourage too many young men to go into the fishing business. Those now fishing the great lakes I think are producing the quantity
Mortgage Credits for Fishermen
of fish that can reasonably be sold in the Canadian and American markets. To make long term loans for which the security might quickly disappear and for which the borrower would hold no great feeling of responsibility would only induce much severer competition with those already in the industry. So in framing the act, so far as the great lakes are concerned, I think loans should be restricted to restoring gear and equipment for those already engaged in the industry and helping those who have been in the industry recently but who have been forced out by economic circumstances or storms-I know of several cases-to reestablish themselves in the industry; and that loans on gear should be for short terms, within the time in which the security may be worn out and be of no value.
Those are the only observations I wish to make. I agree with the principle of assisting this great basic industry. I am not familiar with the situation on the Atlantic or the Pacific coast but I am familiar with it in Ontario on the great lakes, which produce many million dollars' worth of fresh fish.
Topic: MORTGAGE CREDITS FOR FISHERMEN