Mr. S. R. Balcom (Halifax):
I seem to be looking at this budget through different eyes than those of hon. members who have spoken previously. I believe that most hon. members were prepared to be given a very gloomy budget, but instead we find it full of many gratifying surprises. We have had budgets known as sunshine budgets and share the wealth budgets, but this is a combination of them all. It has been labelled by some as the maritimes or Atlantic budget. It might best be termed a sound, common sense budget, because it will benefit all Canadians, especially those who need assistance most. Truly the forgotten man has been remembered as well as the little man on the street who is so often depicted in the newspapers as being clothed in a barrel with a bowler hat on his head. He will now be able to afford a new outfit.
Through this budget the war veteran with a disability receives a very substantial increase in his pension. The married burnt-out veteran also has a nice increase in his war veterans allowance. Then the blind have not been forgotten, nor have the disabled, the retarded children and the families drawing the family allowance. Several nuisance taxes have been removed, as has the special excise tax on soft drinks, candy and motorcycles which will be much appreciated by these industries and the public.
If the concessions given to the maritimes turn out as we hope they will, and they should-for the results depend very largely on us who come from the Atlantic provinces-then the two measures designed to stimulate the economy of the Atlantic provinces will, in one instance, have the federal
government pay an additional $2 million annually in freight rate subventions on goods moved out of the maritimes into central Canada. Second, we have the proposition to provide interconnection facilities between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the integration of our electrical systems, for which Ottawa is prepared to build and operate thermo plants. This will be of inestimable value.
The intention of the government to take action immediately to alleviate the special difficulties of the Atlantic provinces caused by railway freight rate increases in the last decade will reflect quickly and positively on our economy. I can assure the minister and his colleages that Nova Scotia appreciates the consideration we have received. Nevertheless, the opposition has said that the budget proposes nothing by way of aid to the Atlantic provinces. However, the budget speech does not pretend to cover all Canada's problems, regional and otherwise. There have been other federal proposals that help those areas of Canada which are in fiscal need, and indeed the principal proposal was referred to in the minister's speech. I refer to the federal-provincial proposals.
Through the new fiscal arrangements proposed by the federal government a considerably greater amount of money will be available to the provincial governments, including and especially the Atlantic provinces. During the first year of operation under the new arrangements this increase would amount to about 20 per cent over and above what would be available to the provinces as a whole if the present tax rental agreements were renewed. One of our major aims in making these proposals has been to assure as far as possible to all provincial governments access to revenues consistent with their responsibilities. The Atlantic provinces would share fully in the advantages of the proposed fiscal arrangements and, more than any of the other provinces, the proposals go a long way in providing for their fiscal needs.
The new proposals provide unconditional equalization grants and on a per capita basis these are highest for the Atlantic provinces, amounting to $27.58 for Newfoundland, $29.84 for Prince Edward Island, $23.90 for Nova Scotia and $24.95 for New Brunswick. The only other province which comes close to these figures is Saskatchewan, where the proposed equalization per capita grant would amount to $23.48. By comparison, per capita equalization payments to the other provinces would be lower, ranging from $16.24 for Manitoba to zero for Ontario.
Within the framework of the proposed fiscal arrangements it is clear, therefore, that the
federal government has recognized the special needs of the maritime provinces, and I would like to add that the method by which these federal payments are made will leave the provinces entirely free to use the funds as they see fit.
In addition, of course, the federal government is continuing to pay coal subventions to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick at the same level as last year, despite the lessening of United States competition in coal. Similarly, feed grain freight assistance is to be continued, and this support works more to the advantage of the Atlantic provinces than to other provinces in terms of freight subsidy per ton of the grain shipped from the west.
Last year, Mr. Speaker, I was fortunate enough to be selected by the Minister of National Health and Welfare and by our own minister in Nova Scotia to join the delegation attending the ninth world health organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Canada was well represented at this meeting by the most zealous of delegates. The delegation was happily headed by Dr. G. D. W. Cameron, deputy minister of national health and welfare, who was a splendid choice for he is well-versed in this work. Dr. Cameron is a tireless, conscientious worker who gives inspiration to his colleagues. Alternate delegates attending were Dr. Burns Roth, deputy minister of public health of the province of Saskatchewan, who possesses exceptional ability and has a fine background in health work, and Hector Allard, the permanent representative to the European office of the United Nations in Geneva.
Those who accompanied us as advisers and counsellors were Dr. Emil Blain of Montreal, president of the French association of medicine in Canada and an outstanding physician with a national reputation; Miss Dorothy M. Percy, R.N., chief consultant in nursing, Department of National Health and Welfare, Ottawa, who gives all her strength, knowledge and ability in service to her country, and Mr. Melvin G. Clark, of the Department of Finance, a member of Canada's permanent mission to the European office of the United Nations in Geneva. Mr. Clark has vision, and through his diplomacy and that of our chief all the major difficulties which are bound to arise when one is dealing with the representatives of over 80 nations were smoothed out to the satisfaction of everyone.
It is encouraging and reassuring to me, sir, to realize that the government of Canada has such employees as Dr. Don Cameron, Miss Percy, Mr. Allard and Mr. Melvin Clark. The government of Saskatchewan must appreciate the splendid work of Dr. F. Burns Roth.
Over 80 countries were represented at this meeting, and your Canadian delegation played
The Budget-Mr. Balcom an active part in the deliberations. Recognition was given to Canada by the general assembly appointing Dr. Cameron to the executive of the world health organization. The fine work being done by the WHO knows no boundaries. Some 400 million people, one-sixteenth of the world's population, have already benefited from modern methods of controlling malaria, tuberculosis, yaws, and other death-dealing diseases. Since the start of mass campaigns against yaws and other treponematoses, 50 million people have been treated, and through modern methods and efficiency the cost per treatment has been brought down to 75 cents, and 10 cents per examination.
Before making any further remarks may I commend the Minister of Agriculture and, of course, in association with him the Minister of Transport, for the prompt action taken in implementing the federal grain freight system, which practically offsets the cost of the 1956 freight rate boosts to users of feed grain. A short delay in implementation might have cost the farmers of the maritime provinces well over $400,000, and those of Nova Scotia in particular over $170,000.
I would like to commend the maritime transportation commission for their effective action in presenting a brief to the minister outlining the need for quick action in this case. I would also like to commend the Minister of National Health and Welfare and offer him our sincere thanks for his action in bringing into the house legislation to provide a national health insurance scheme for the people of Canada. While Nova Scotia has not entered into the scheme yet, I feel sure that in its wisdom the provincial government will soon elect to be a party to this very worth-while plan.
Mr. Speaker, one of the most important sections in the preliminary report of the Gordon commission deals with transportation in the Atlantic provinces. The report has two important suggestions to make in this field. One is for a re-examination of the effect of the Maritime Freight Rates Act. As I made a statement about that in the early days of this session and referred to it earlier tonight I will not deal with it now. A scheme which is broader in scope and which in fact embraces the above is a recommendation for an early inquiry into the whole transportation system. The budget introduced by the Minister of Finance assures us that action is forthcoming. This will, I presume, involve all the different means of transportation, and will therefore touch the jurisdiction of the provinces as well as that of the federal government.
The Budget-Mr. Balcom
I wish to speak now of one particular phase of federal responsibility in this field, namely that which concerns the port of Halifax. Since the administration of the port of Halifax was taken over in 1935 by the national harbours board, commendable progress has been made. Facilities have been improved by the replacement of structures in use in the 'thirties'; new sheds have been built on piers 26 and 9B which have added 20 per cent to the effective shed area, and a modern large pier to replace the old pier 3 has been constructed. The improvement in facilities has permitted the handling of a larger volume of general cargo. Grain handling facilities have also been increased, with the doubling of the elevator storage space.
Further, there are substantial additions now under way. Shed 27 and the new pier A-l with its two additional sheds will go a long way toward meeting our current needs. This new pier and its sheds will cost well over $5 million. But in a growing country like Canada we must not think only in terms of this year's needs; we must plan for five years from now, yes, for 25 years in the future, as the Gordon commission was asked to do.
Two events in the present shipping season which, as hon. members know, are the winter months in Halifax, have directed attention to our port facilities. I refer to the strike on the Canadian Pacific Railway and to the recent tie-up of United States Atlantic ports. Both brought increased business to Halifax at the height of its busy season and created some problems. Although the facilities were taxed by this additional business, the experience of those affected directly proved both the suitability of the port for such traffic and the quality of the service that could be rendered.
Nevertheless, the evidence pointed to the need for a close look at the situation. In order to have first-hand knowledge I asked responsible people in the shipping industry, both business and labour, for their views on desirable improvements.
The answers I received, although not unanimous as to details, expressed the need for the addition of facilities such as piers, sheds, grain berths and a heavy crane capable of lifting 200 tons. It is not my purpose to go into the details here. I shall pass them on to the national harbours board management, where I know they will receive proper consideration, but I do want to deal with some general considerations which involve long-range policy.
It takes more than physical facilities in the shape of piers, sheds and machinery for an efficient port. The most effective use
of these facilities requires not only good organization within the port authority but co-operation and good relations with the shipping companies and the men who work on the waterfront, the stevedores and the freight handlers. The high reputation of Halifax could not be attained if any one of these fell short in their responsibilities. The signal success that has been achieved must be judged in the light of the particular difficulties faced by all agencies concerned.
The short season is perhaps the fundamental problem. A second factor is that Halifax is a port of call for many ships and not a terminal port, which results in many small cargoes instead of fewer larger ones. This means that the services of many different shipping companies, the railway, the stevedores, the freight handlers and the trucking firms must all be co-ordinated. To make the best use of the physical facilities, superior organization and the good will of all parties are required.
Turning again to the long-range planning the situation demands, I, suggest that first the federal departments and agencies involved should review their requirements with the object of defining an integrated plan of development. To have an integrated plan I would say it is about time the Canadian National Railways did something to improve their facilities in Nova Scotia, not just at Moncton, Truro and outside stations but in Halifax itself. A particularly bad spot at this time is Deep Water, where since the war the new pier 3, costing well over $3 million, was built through the efforts of the national harbours board, whereas the railway entrance to pier 2 and pier 3 has received little if any attention and is very inadequate. From pier 9 to Deep Water terminals there is only one rail line in and one rail line out. When they are servicing the local freight shed piers 2 and 3 have to wait, and I am informed that on occasion it takes 24 hours to get a car placed in this area.
We would recommend that it is high time the local freight shed was moved from its present location and the land and tracks used to service piers 2 and 3 for import and export cargo. A suggestion has been made that some exchange of properties between the harbours board and the Royal Canadian Navy would provide easier rail access for commercial shipping. If such is desirable, the Canadian National Railways should sit down with the other two departments to determine the best course of action.
If we are to proceed with plans that will facilitate the development of the industrial mile on the shores of Bedford basin, the city
of Halifax will certainly be a partner. Here is a golden opportunity to combine desirable industrial development with the provision of alternative housing for the residents of Africville. The federal government has made provision for dealing with such situations by providing 50 per cent of the cost of acquiring and clearing the land, 75 per cent of the cost of new housing construction, and an equivalent share of operating costs if there should be a deficit.
Now that the province of Nova Scotia has stated its intention to participate in housing developments, it should be easier for the city to proceed with a much needed project for better housing for the residents of that section on Bedford basin known as Africville. For many years the welfare agencies have tried to interest public and private groups in such a project, not only in the name of humanity but in the interests of good business. These are fine people living on the Bedford shore, and not only should be but must be assisted substantially in a rehabilitation program.
Before leaving the matter of port development I want to re-emphasize the need for immediate improvement in the over-all railway facilities-trackage for marshalling of cars and storage and availability of rolling stock. I should also speak again of the need for additional hotel accommodation, and I urge the Canadian National Railways to proceed with an addition to the Nova Scotian hotel. The high occupancy rate of hotels in Halifax and the demand for convention space suggests that the business is there. Further, it is entirely probable that enlargement of the hotel would enhance its profit position by spreading the overhead. In any case, even on its present scale the hotel has just completed a profitable year, and conventions planned to be held in Halifax in 1958 cannot get accommodation.
There are other things in the preliminary report of the royal commission on Canada's economic prospects on which I should like to comment and commend the government for its prompt action. While the Senate investigation of land use may not be a direct result of the commission report, nevertheless the approach reflects similar thinking on the part of the government. In the absence of the discovery of spectacular new resources in the Atlantic provinces, the only way we can expect economic progress there is to make better use of what we have. Federal assistance toward this end represents constructive action.
The first step required is to know what we have. In addition to investigation of land use as outlined, more intensive geological
The Budget-Mr. Balcom work on mineral possibilities and better knowledge of our forest resources to promote better utilization would be helpful. These are not just broad generalizations or empty phrases. Just to make them specific and meaningful I can refer to the several thousand acres of land along the Musquo-doboit river in Halifax county that could yield so much more if it were properly drained and not subject to floods. We have a forest industry now supporting a ground-wood pulp operation at Sheet Harbour in Halifax county that could yield a lot more wealth to that community with better forest management which could bring a paper mill to this locality. If there is any way in which the federal authority can assist such a project at Sheet Harbour, early action would be appreciated by the people of the eastern shore of Halifax county.
Also of vital concern to Nova Scotia is the controversial question of fishing limits on our coast line. The government has already brought this matter before the United Nations, and it is good to know that a strong case for Canada will be made. I know there will be representations from the Department of Fisheries for the 12-mile fishing limit so we may have fairness in the treatment of fishing trawlers of all nations. The idea of the Minister of Fisheries to stress the fishing limit and not a territorial limit is smart and practical.
We must also be concerned with conservation aspects of this matter. While conservation and the 12-mile limit are of immediate interest to the inshore fisheries, they are also of equal importance in the long run to the fisheries industry generally. Many communities on St. Margaret's bay and along the eastern shore of Halifax county depend for their livelihood on the inshore fisheries, and this industry accounts for an estimated 20 per cent of Halifax city's economy.
It was a great satisfaction to me, as to many others in the house, to vote for the passage of the legislation authorizing the payment of full municipal taxation on federal property. The importance of this to my own constituency is indicated in the amounts which the federal government will pay in lieu of taxation, probably $1 million or more to Halifax city, $100,000 to the town of Dartmouth and over $70,000 to Halifax county.
This liberalization of policy in respect of federal property comes at a particularly opportune time for the local governments concerned. There is always great pressure on governments at all levels to find the money with which to pay for the services demanded.
The Budget-Mr. Balcom This is particularly true of growing municipalities at this time. Real estate taxes, the backbone of municipal revenue, do not increase as quickly with economic growth as do income or sales taxes. Furthermore, the problem of financing the services demanded has been accentuated in areas where there is a large proportion of tax-exempt property. However, I must acknowledge the fact that this has not led to any reluctance to have federal property in our constituency.
It is a rewarding thing in political life to feel that you know and understand the problems and views of your constituents, and also their needs. For some years an airport was needed to round out one phase of our transportation system. Shortly the Halifax international airport will be an integral part of the transportation facilities in our riding, and we are most gratified at the progress that is being made. The statement by the Minister of Transport that discussions concerning the road to the airport had been held with the premier of Nova Scotia indicates that there are no obstacles to the orderly development of related facilities. However, there are some problems on the Dartmouth side of Halifax harbour which the government should review.
Without going into the matter at length, Mr. Speaker, I am going to make a few specific suggestions. The docking facilities of Dartmouth are inadequate for the fast-growing demands. In particular, the lumber wharf should be replaced by a modern pier, to be part of a great over-all development. The need for a new marine and fisheries building is apparent, and the work of that important department would be greatly facilitated thereby. The Canadian National Railways facilities that service the town and the eastern side of the harbour are inadequate. They look out of date and they are out of date. The trackage and marshalling yards are inadequate and need extensions.
Mr. Speaker, the trend of our manufacturers to ship their products through United States ports is still disturbing to me. It is next to impossible to understand why companies receiving the benefits of high protection should ignore our Canadian ports. How can we expect to develop our ports unless we receive the loyal support of our manufacturers? We in the maritimes pay through the nose for everything that is manufactured in Canada, and by companies receiving tariff concessions.
May I cite a few cases only. First I mention that of the automobile. We in the maritimes have little manufacturing, but we do not squawk too much about the difference in price as between a car purchased in the United States and one bought in Canada nor,
the difference between one bought in Ontario and one bought in Nova Scotia. In this latter instance, on an automobile we buy in the maritimes we pay an added freight charge of about $100. This is due, of course, to the centralization of industry in Ontario. An automobile should sell for the same price in Halifax as it does in Oshawa or Windsor. The over-all freight charges should be worked out so the charge should be a Canadian-wide average. It is not a greatly involved problem but one which the manufacturers could solve with little difficulty. It is true the population living near the plants would pay more, but this consideration would be offset by the benefits to the population in the fringe areas.
But to come back to the use of our ports, may I say this. We cannot be very happy when we see such a large proportion of our automobiles shipped through United States ports. I believe that one Canadian automobile company has changed its policy and is making greater use of our facilities. The car industry is not the only offender. Machinery, except agriculture, is shipped through foreign ports to the value of millions of dollars, to the extent of nearly 50 per cent of the total exports in this commodity; and of all things, 86.6 per cent of the farm implements travel through United States ports, leaving 13.4 per cent, the crumbs, to be divided among Halifax, Saint John, Quebec and other Canadian outlets.
I have dealt in the main with matters of particular consequence to the constituency I represent, or with national policies in their local application. I have left the international issues to be dealt with by those more directly concerned with the development of policy. However, I would not resume my seat without some reference to certain aspects of these questions on which I feel I must express a point of view.
Because of the sustained efforts being made to construe Canada's role at the United Nations as being hostile to our British connection, I think government spokesmen should re-emphasize the fact that the unity of the commonwealth is a primary objective of our foreign policy. There may well be differences of opinion on how that objective is to be served, but there should be no question of the objective itself. At the same time, I am shocked at the line of thought that whatever Britain does in international disputes, Canada should do likewise. This is as much as to say that the particular British government in power must necessarily be assumed to be right by Canadians even though it may not have the full support of the British people themselves; and that whether right or wrong, wise or unwise,
Canada should support British policy. If such an attitude were to prevail, commonwealth solidarity would long since have melted away.
My contention is that the greatest tribute we can pay to Britain or to France is to apply the principles of democracy and respect for law, nurtured by those great countries, as we in Canada see them in making our decisions on international affairs. The best support we can give the commonwealth will come from respect for law and our commitments in accordance with the British tradition. As a nation, Canada must apply these principles as we see them. If we do so, our associates within the commonwealth and the United Nations will know what they can expect of us as an independent nation.
In this vein, I believe, the stand that Canada took on the Suez crisis was decided upon. I should like to commend the government and the Secretary of State for External Affairs in particular for the leadership given on that occasion. Our representatives had not only the will to seek but the wisdom to devise an arrangement which commanded the support of most countries in the Suez crisis.
Let us proceed with the same courage and imagination in dealing with the continuing problems in the Middle East. Having demonstrated our maturity in international affairs we shall find ourselves with more and more responsibility; but I feel confident that with its present leadership in that field, Canada can meet the challenge.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE