Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)
Can you quote it?
Can you quote it?
The statement was made on July 22. The minister said that the immediate emergency shortage-not thinking in terms of eliminating substandard houses, but the immediate emergency shortage of houses in Canada on March 31, 1946-was 150,000 housing units, and even if Canada built 60,000 in the next ensuing fiscal year that shortage would have increased by March 31, 1947 to
180,000. The committee is looking for information. Will the minister give a report on what that emergency shortage is today, measured in the same terms?
You left out individual enterprise.
I now want to deal with one other question while I am speaking about this welter of confusion. It is not very many months ago that we had to complain about the direction of housing affairs in this government being distributed among three ministers. There was a sort of three-ring circus going on, the different ministers competing with one another. The government then made a show of concentrating responsibility in one minister. But it appears that recently, through the agency of Canadian Commercial Corporation, another government department has undertaken a housing or conversion programme involving, as the Minister of National Defence told us, hundreds of units. I think the committee would like to know if there is some attempt at coordination between that programme and the various programmes which the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply is supposed to be directing. I shall have something further to ask on the individual items.
No, it is not carried. This is a more serious matter than my hon. friend apparently thinks. This is a matter that really goes to the root of the promises which have been made by this government to the veterans. I am saying to the minister that we have not had a veterans housing plan in Canada, and in my small way I am trying to do what I can to give the government a little impetus in this direction.
Who built the 3,000 houses?
I am not talking about 3,000 houses; I am talking about 200,000 houses for veterans. I say there are 200,000 veterans in Canada who have never had a decent place to live since coming back from overseas. They are living in somebody's attic; or I have seen four of them living in one
Supply-Reconstruction and Supply
room, sleeping in the kitchen at that. I am suggesting that it is about time something was done in this matter.
4. As far as these houses are concerned, it is my opinion that they should be built by private enterprise; in other words, by private builders. It seems an odd thing that in a city like Toronto there should be only from nine to twelve builders working under the integrated housing plan when, as a matter of fact, there are some 450 builders in that city who could be doing this work if they were given the job and shown how to get on with it. The fact of the matter is that private builders are having such a difficult time, by reason of lack of materials and the competition in obtaining material, with commercial construction, that they cannot go into the integrated plan, nor can they go into any plan for the benefit of the veterans because of the obstacles placed in their wray.
5. I am suggesting an absolute building material priority should be given to the veteran who, through his contractor, is building himself a home in one of these developments.
6. And with respect to these houses, let us not build just 1,000 or 2.000; let us build
200,000. Let us put them up by mass production, because I am perfectly satisfied that the veteran w'ould rather have a house meeting his minimum requirements, in which to get himself settled, leaving to the future and to his own devices such matters as the finishing of the attic or the construction of an addition. I have seen a good many first-class low-cost, houses in which the attics were left unfinished, where the cost was thereby cut down. I believe that, in the interests of the veteran, a plan should be commenced under which his minimum requirements would be looked after first, leaving these other things to follow.
7. Now, how are we to get the private builder to build under a plan which combines all these various factors? Dollars and cents do not mean very much to him, because, as a matter of fact, the profit on a low-cost house is small, but the difficulties in the way of building are so great that he is stopped almost before he starts. If it is possible to give to the manufacturer of nails or the manufacturer of soil pipe an incentive bonus to bring about greater production, so in the same way it should be possible to give some incentive bonus to the builder, so that he may build under this plan and so that it may be made attractive for him.
Mr. Chairman, it is practically eleven o'clock and there is a message
from the senate to be read, so I wonder if we could report progress.
The minister asked me to give the committee the source of his remarks to which I referred a moment ago. I refer hon. members to Hansard for July 22, 1946, at page 3672. At that time the minister said:
As at March, 1946, our minimum immediate housing needs were estimated at 150,000 housing units.
Then he went on to talk about the family formation rate, and so on, and then had this [DOT]
From these new requirements over the next year, we can subtract some 50,000-60,000 units completed during the year ending March, 1947.
I believe that these figures and estimates, though approximate, are valid and that we can anticipate by spring, 1947, an immediate housing deficit of some 180,000 units, or a worsening of the situation by some twenty per cent.
If the minister would keep track of what, he says he would not have so many contradictions in the statements he makes.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:
Shall this item carry?
. Item stands.
At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, July 16, 1947