If we concede that the bill
will not meet the objectives for which it was designed, and the debate makes this self-evident, then I suggest it is incumbent on the house to seek alterations which give promise of achieving the objectives. In the first place, I think the validity of the fundamental concept of the bill should be examined. It assumes that individual home ownership is almost a sine qua non. I would dispute this basic assumption. How many families in urban localities have grown up and made their contribution to society in homes that they themselves did not own? It will be found that hundreds of thousands of the very best that this country has produced lived and lived well in rented premises.
I think that the emphasis in the bill should perhaps be shifted from home ownership to low rental housing. Mind you, I have no objection to the principle of home ownership. I would not favour altering the bill in any
respect with regard to this principle. The bill provides for home ownership for certain groups of people. There is nothing wrong with individual ownership except that it is designed for those who wish it and, more particularly, for those who can afford it.
We shall have to concede that normal investment funds are not available for low rental housing largely because the return is too low and the conditions too uncertain to attract investment capital. Therefore I submit it is necessary to seek another agency. In this regard I should like to suggest to the minister that business and industry have the necessary social consciousness and sense of social responsibility to assume the burden of providing suitable housing for their own employees at a price they can afford to pay, provided, however, that this is not added to their operating expenses and consequently reflected in the price structure.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is definitely in the interests of industry and business, because obviously the welfare of their employees must be of interest to them. The bill provides also, in a limited way, for this sort of participation by industry by specifying the industries of mining, lumbering, logging and so forth. Why not enlarge this provision to embrace all industry? There would be no particular objection that I can see to doing this. As a matter of fact, it would be a great social experiment.
I can envisage, Mr. Speaker, the emergence of a new social pattern wherein industry and business would gladly assume the responsibility for providing decent housing for its own employees. Such a development would unquestionably be in the best interests of business, and being based on self-interest it would be guaranteed a successful operation. I would suggest that these funds be lent to industry by the corporation when, in the judgment of the corporation, it is evident that the applicant possesses the financial stability to insure the servicing of the loan over a considerable period of time, and of course with adequate safeguards as to the rate of rental and so on.
I should say that this suggestion is entirely my own. I assume full responsibility for it, although I believe it is in accordance with the political principles of the official opposition. I offer it to the minister free and without expectation of any credit, because I believe I see in it the germ of a new social experiment which would provide decent homes for thousands of our people which this bill, in its present form, does not provide. (Translation):
Topic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic: NATIONAL HOUSING ACT