Mr. EUSEBE ROBERGE (Megantic) (Translation):
Mr. Chairman, the resolution
now before us has for its object to help farmers' sons to establish themselves on the land, and it provides for a five year plan. I have on the order paper a similar resolution, but providing for a three year plan. My resolution reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of this house, it is expedient that the government should study immediately the question of amending the Unemployment Relief Act. in such a way as to enable the Minister of Labour to accept the Vautrin plan in extending the same privileges to the family heads who establish their sons on abandoned farms.
This resolution being pretty far down on the order paper, I shall probably not have the opportunity of discussing it this year. I therefore take the present occasion to offer the observations I would have made in presenting my own motion.
Mr. Chairman, we have in the province of Quebec an act that provides for assistance to the farmer wishing to establish his son on an abandoned farm or on other land purchased by him. This act, which has been in force for three years, has given good results. For the first and second years, the government limited the grant to $300 to ten persons in each county. During the two first years, almost every county in the province of Quebec took advantage of the act, and, in the third year, the grant was made to twenty persons per county.
Last year, as Megantic county was without representation in the Quebec legislature, owing to the appointment of my colleague Mr. Laureat Lapierre to the post of sheriff of the district of Quebec, all applications from farmers came to me, although I was not in charge of patronage, and I forwarded them to the hon. Minister of Colonization. The popularity of the measure is shown by the fact that in the course of the year I received fifty applications, of which forty came from industrious people and were considered worthy.
Last autumn, the Vautrin plan was approved by the large convention held at Quebec and attended by hundreds of persons who had assembled to discuss the advantages of a colonization plan. The provincial government then raised to ten million dollars its grant for the establishment of farmers' sons and of unemployed men on farms or colonization lots. The limitation of twenty grants per county, fixed by the first act and in force since one year, was withdrawn and to-day the Quebec government makes the grant to any head of a family who wishes to purchase a farm for his sons, providing the farm be registered in the name of the son, that the latter settle upon it and that he be a bona fide farmer.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that if the federal government contributed an equal amount to this plan, it would be much more advantageous, in many cases, than to send farmers' sons out to new land far removed from their families. To establish a son in the same parish as his father would cost much less, for many reasons. The first reason is that the son could use all his father's farm machinery. Secondly, he could borrow, during the first year, his father's horses to do his ploughing, seeding and other heavy work. That would make it unnecessary for him to buy farm machinery and would allow him to use his income to purchase a certain number of head of cattle which would make it possible for him to earn his living on his farm from the first year. The third advantage would be to put back into operation the abandoned farms that dot our beautiful Quebec parishes, while making it possible for the sons of farmers to remain near their families. Today, thanks to improved farming methods, the farmers of the old parishes of the province do not need so much land as formerly. Dwelling in an agricultural county, I am in a position to state that in my own parish, farmers obtain from the same amount of land twice the crop they harvested twenty years ago. My parish, like all the others of my county, still has unoccupied farms.
Land Settlement-Mr. Gobeil
It is for all these reasons that I urge the federal government to do its share and to contribute as much as the Quebec government towards helping fathers of families to purchase land for one of their sons. With this $300 grant, you will immediately find that farms will sell and that farmers sons, instead of leaving home, will in most cases remain in their respective counties, where they will be much happier near their relatives and friends than they would be in distant colonization districts.
I do not object to the grant the federal government makes to farmers sons settling on colonization lots, but I believe that the scheme I have just submitted deserves to be encouraged as well. For this reason, I ask the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon)- who also administers the Unemployment Relief Act-to have the act amended in such a way as to grant to fathers who wish to establish their sons on farms in our old parishes an amount equal to that granted by the Quebec government. I am convinced that once this scheme is put in operation, our abandoned farms will be occupied once more, farmers sons will settle upon them permanently, the federal and provincial governments will find that it costs less to establish these young men on farms that will provide them with a living from the first year, and that they will have to make only one grant. I repeat that this scheme will be less costly to our governments, for if you establish these young men in colonization districts, you will have to grant them each year ploughing and clearing bounties and even direct relief. There will be everything to build: roads, schools, churches; whereas, in our old parishes all that has already been done.
In my opinion, that would be one of the finest things the government could do tn assist the farmers of our province.
Topic: LAND SETTLEMENT
Subtopic: FIVE TEAR PLAN TO ENCOURAGE AND ASSIST RURAL POPULATION IN FARMING