I am not going to withdraw that. It is the truth. If it is damning him with feint praise, I cannot help it. The minister has intelligence. I never thought an intelligent Minister of Finance would give the reason he did. He said he cannot support the 6 per cent mortgage interest rate because that would push up the demand for houses and put prices up higher at a time when we in Canada have over a half a million unemployed men and women to produce the homes that are needed. We have all the materials in Canada to build the houses and housing units that are required. It is necessary to build more homes. Certainly, the 6 per cent interest rate or any other provision that would assist the purchaser of the home would not produce the houses that are needed by the Canadian people.
What did the minister say with regard to producing homes in Canada? He said he had no gimmicks. He was not using cosmetic policies. He was not using draconian policies. He was not using draconian policies as far as the corporations are concerned, but he was using cosmetic policies when he said his solution to the home ownership problem in Canada would be to allow people who can save up to $1,000 a year to a maximum of $10,000 in their lifetime to deduct that saving from their income tax.
The first question to ask is how many young Canadian couples make the kind of income that would enable them to save $1,000 a year? The minister ought to have looked into that. To save $1,000 a year on top of taxes and everything else is very difficult. I suggest the minister would be lucky if 20 per cent of young married couples could save $1,000 a year for this purpose, in addition to everything else.
The second question to ask is, what does this deduction mean? It will help the wealthier young couple a great deal more than the poorer couple. The young couple who can only save $200 a year and who pay an income tax rate of 25 per cent will only save $50 in taxes. However, a young
couple who can save the total $1,000 a year and who pay a tax rate of 40 per cent will save $400 in taxes that year. The poorer couple save $50, the richer couple $400. That is exactly characteristic of the budget of the Minister of
What is more, Mr. Speaker, the minister does nothing in his budget to lower the cost of a house. If hon. members have followed what has happened during the last year or two, they will know what this means. By tne time the young couple have saved $4,000 or $5,000, if they can afford to, over a period of five, seven or eight years, that sum is inadequate even for a downpayment. In addition, the increased price of the house will have eaten up their total savings probably two or three time over. We never suggested that 6 per cent interest is a complete solution to the housing problem.
On behalf of my party, I say that what is needed is a buying up or banking of urban land in Canada today. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you that the time has come to put this kind of land under public ownership, whether under the ownership of the municipality, province or federal government, instead of letting it remain in the hands of the speculative developer. Urban development land should no longer be left in the private market for the price to be pushed up so it becomes unavailable to the ordinary Canadian family. A public agency of this kind, be it federal, provincial or municipal, should take over. We also suggest, if the provinces will not do this, that we need in Canada a national construction corporation, a Crown company, to fill in the gaps left by private builders, so as to build homes for the people of Canada which are made available to the purchaser or renter at reasonable cost.
What does the Minister of Finance do by way of assistance in this regard? He produces this gimmick of a $1,000 deduction, and then removes the carrying charges on land held for future development as a deductible expense. I agree that this is a good proposal, one that is long overdue. But we noted with chagrin and distress that there is no meaningful tax on speculative profits in the land development area.
There is no doubt that there are some goodies in this budget. I have never known a budget that did not contain favourable items with which everybody could agree, particularly a budget that it is expected might come before an election. But I must say that the niggardliness of the minister is such that even in a pre-election budget he could not let himself go. For example, Mr. Speaker, take the tax cut for individual taxpayers: an additional $50 a year. That amounts to 96 cents a week, or two cents for every hour worked by the average worker in this country. That is the kind of tax cut they are going to get. This is the extent of the relief that the minister boasted about last night, the extent of the relief to people whom, he said, were hurt by rising prices. He has given them relief from income tax to the tune of 96 cents a week.
Within a few days, Mr. Speaker, the price of gasoline will be increased by eight to 10 cents per gallon. I suggest this $50 a year will be eaten up within a few months by the increase in the price of gasoline alone, so far as the
The Budget-Mr. Lewis
average Canadian is concerned, and not a penny will be left for anything else. The farmers of this country, as a group, are the largest consumers of petroleum products. The farmer uses gasoline not only for his car, but for his trucks, his tractors and all his other farm equipment. For him, this $50 will be eaten up within a week. That is the relief that the farmers of Canada are given from the rising cost of living. I should like to understand what kind of psychology makes a government produce this sort of niggardly, mean and cruel hoax on the individual taxpayer.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: THE BUDGET