June 13, 1929

LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

The $5,000,000 includes

principal and interest, and of that amount $3,791,533 has been paid this year to May 31.

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UFA
LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

This $5,392,838, and of that amount $3,791,533 has been paid.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

That is the information I want, only I want it from 1922 up to the present time. I want to know how much has become due in that time; how much has been paid; to what extent the men have fallen behind-the minister has given me the information for last year, but I would like it from 1922 on. I take a great deal of interest in this work and I am trying to find out the result of the experiment. In order to do that I must know how much is due, how much has been paid, and how much is still left unpaid from 1922 to the present time.

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

Perhaps the

minister could bring down that information at eight o'clock.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I have a few suggestions to make, but I cannot make them until I have that information.

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

It should be possible to

obtain that.

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UFA
LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

We have it for this year,

and I do not see why it should not be available for the other years. .

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

We will let that matter stand for the moment. I have a number of other questions along the same line which I would like to ask the minister. To what extent has revaluation been carried on, that is, how many applications have been made to date, how many appraisals have been made, how many final awards have been sanctioned by the courts, and how many appeals have been filed?

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

The number of settlers

eligible to apply was 10,682.

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UFA
LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

That was the number who

were eligible to apply. The number of applications received was 8,290; of that number, 167 were withdrawn. The number of appraisals up to date is 7,377; the number of appraisals which have been received at the head office in Ottawa is 5,905; the number of final awards approved, 4,598, and the sale price to the settlers, of the 10,682 eligible, $17,007,585.

The board's award to the present time has made a reduction of $3,934,602. Soldiers to the number of 3,372 have given their consent to the award that has been made; 876 have not yet consented; 138 to date have appealed to the exchequer court and 21 appeals have been withdrawn since being lodged. The average percentage of reduction is 23 T per cent.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

Does the minister know what percentage of the awards granted were swallowed up in arrears which the men have incurred? The point is this: when an award is made, the settler is credited with that amount as a cash payment. It frequently happens that arrears accumulated between the fall of 1922 when all arrears were reconsolidated, and the time that the appraisal was made and the award given. The practice has been to cancel the arrears to the extent of the award made, that is, to apply it to the man's outstanding indebtedness. It often happens that the reduction granted under the revaluation does not cover even the amount of arrears into which the men have fallen during previous years. In how many cases did the award result in an actual reduction in the annual payments and in how many cases was it absorbed by the arrears?

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

Some of those questions are

going to be pretty difficult to answer until the whole thing is wound up. I understand the hon. member's point of view; it is that in some cases the payments may be just as great in the future as they were in the past.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I realize it would be

very difficult to get any such percentage at the moment, but the point is there and the minister is aware of it. In a number of cases .-I cannot say just now how many-the arrears of the man practically swallowed up the amount awarded to him, so that the annual payment was as great as before. This brings me to this situation: during the six years between the amendment of 1922 which consolidated and amortized the outstanding indebtedness of that time, and the fall of 1928, when the appraisals were made, a percentage, how large I do not know, of those settlers fell behind so badly in their annual payments

3704 COMMONS

Supply-Soldier Land Settlement

that the reduction itself of 23 per cent did not meet the arrears. I have cases that I dealt with personally where the reduction granted fell far short of meeting the arrears. I am not going to stress that point as far as I might, but I will give an illustration which will show the committee exactly what I mean and what the situation is. As a matter of fact, I am taking one out of a good many that have gone through my own hands.

This man, an overseas man of British birth, a man who had given good service, returned and bought a quarter-section under the board. His indebtedness at the time of purchase of land, stock and all the equipment he required, was something like $7,300. He fell behind rather badly prior to 1922, but with the reconsolidation of 1922 he made a fresh start. In 1928, when the appraisal was made, he was awarded, I think, $1,600 or within a few dollars of that. It was what he considered and what I consider, too, as a very fair award, and he had no complaint in that regard. But his arrears had accumulated during the six years to $2,300, in spite of the fact that for four out of those six years no interest charge had been made. The committee is well aware of the fact that by the amendment of 1922, the consolidated indebtedness was exempt from interest for two, three or four years according to the ye-ar in which the man had originally purchased the land. Therefore in his case for four out of those six years, from 1922 to 1928, he had paid no interest on his capital, that is, his annual payment was about 50 per cent of the annual payment with interest included. But during that time he went behind $2,300. He received his revaluation which left him with something like $800 of arrears which were not met by the reduction. After revaluation had taken place, the remaining indebtedness was reconsolidated and again amortized into annual payments, with the result in this man's case and in many others with which I aim familiar, the annual payment, after revaluation, was larger than the annual payment before, due to the fact that the arrears in 1928 amounted to more than the award granted. I think the committee will appreciate very clearly that if a man went behind $2,300 in six years, paying,

I think, about $650 a year during two of those years and about $350 during the first four of the six years, the man is going to have very little chance even after revaluation when the annual payment is greater than before, and his actual capital indebtedness, in spite of the fact that he has made fair, I do not say high, payments during the past years, is greater than when he borrowed the money ten years ago.

I am bringing this forward, not by way of criticism of the minister. The minister knows the situation; he understands it and he is just as sympathetic toward it as I am. But to my mind we are approaching the time when we must decide very definitely whether we are going bo forget to a large extent about the capital indebtedness or whether we are going to have the men leave the land, others come on and leave it in their turn, as I propose to show, and finally to allow the land itself to be sold for far less than its value. This man's case typified a problem that has been worrying me a great deal, not just for the sake of the oountry, not just from the point of view of the taxpayer, but because of the human element that is involved.

This is a .man of the very best type. A few days before I came east, he came to see me in order to put his case before me, not to ask anything of the government. He said that they had done fairly by him, but he wanted to ask my advice as to what he should do. He is in the prime of life and has worked for ten years on a quarter-section. City life has no allure for him; his sole ambition is to stay on the land and to make a success of it. He has four young children born during the time he has been on the farm.

That man, of course, cannot stay. If he went in arrears $2,300 in those six years, during part of which time the payments were only half of what he was paying at another time, it is absolutely impossible for him to meet his payments in the future when in spite of revaluation the annual payment is greater than before. That is the very type of man that we are trying to get into this country, that we are encouraging and assisting to come here, a man of good habits, a patriot, a man raising a family, a man whose whole desire was to work on the land and stay there. Yet here is this man with all the necessary qualifications in an absolutely hopeless position. I have been asked why he failed if he was an average farmer. It was for this reason, and the minister and every hon. member who is a farmer knows. On the average quarter-section in the three prairie provinces to-day it is absolutely impossible for a man to raise a family of four children and support his wife and himself, pay the running costs of the farm, and pay a capital charge of approximately $700 a year. I have tried it. I went out with my parents homesteading forty years ago, and for thirty years I have known no other life than the farm, and I know that in my part of the country and in the greater part of the three prairie provinces it is impossible for a man to raise a family decently, pay the running costs of the

Supply-Soldier Land Settlement

farm, and meet a capital payment of six or seven hundred dollars a year. The government has gone a long way to meeting the situation by the revaluation, but I am convinced that revaluation will simply defer the evil day, because in so many oases the amount awarded was eaten up by the arrears, and the annual payments in many cases are as large and in some cases larger than they were in the beginning. There are two or three phases of the situation that make it a very difficult one to deal with. I do not know a farmer in my part of the country who has made six per cent on his capital investment year after year. Our farmers on the average are a little better farmers than the soldier settlers, because a greater percentage of them have had experience, and they also had a little capital of their own, so in general perhaps they are a little better farmers. Then the average farm is a little better than the farm occupied by the average soldier settler, because when the land was first purchased for the soldier settlers it was not the best land that could be bought, partly because the inspectors did not know their job-it was a new organization created shortly after the war, and they had not been trained in their work-partly because the settler himself was not a good picker, and partly because the average farmer would not dispose of his best land. The average farmer cannot make the payments that the soldier is expected to make and live.

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I agree to some extent with the remarks made by my hon. friend for Red Deer. I believe that the board have in a great many cases advised the soldiers who were in such difficulties as my hon. friend mentioned that there was no chance of their ever being able to get on their feet, but strange to say, the board have found that in many cases they wanted to stay on the farm and were perfectly sure that they would make good under conditions that a practical farmer knew would make it impossible for him to meet the overhead expenses and carry on. I do not know what can be done to meet the situation put before the house by my hon. friend. It was really an indictment of agricultural operations as they are carried on throughout the whole of western Canada today.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

It was not an indictment; it was a mere statement of fact.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

I did not state that

the whole of agriculture was in that position, but my remarks applied with peculiar force

to these soldier settlers because they had a capital indebtedness far greater in proportion to their security than the average farmer would be allowed to undertake, because a mortgage company will loan only up to 50 per cent, whereas the soldier settler got 100 per cent.

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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I might point out that 1,200 soldier settlers have paid off their total indebtedness, so they have not all failed. They got the 40 per cent reduction on their stock and implements one year, and a 25 per cent reduction the following year, and the interest was also cancelled. Now they are getting a revaluation of their farms. I do not see just what we can do about it. We cannot wipe off all their indebtedness. That would be unfair to those settlers who have paid off their indebtedness. I cannot see any other way than giving them all possible encouragement and assistance if we think there is a chance of their pulling through. If we think they are unable to wipe off their indebtedness, and they have a fair chance now to move off their holding and take up a new homestead, that indebtedness does not follow them to the new homestead. I -think it was a good thing that last year they were given the chance to make a new start. My heart bleeds for these people who are in trouble or in debt, and if anything can be suggested by the committee to assist them in any other way, I shall be only too glad to give it consideration. There is a good deal of truth in what my hon. friend says, and I think it is a good thing for the country to know it.

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June 13, 1929