Mr. Speaker, I would not want to miss this opportunity of taking part in the discussion about the National Housing Act of 1954. I represent, as I have said, a growing constituency which avails itself of the housing act administered by the C.M.H.C., another masterpiece of the Liberal regime. My constituency is not far from Montreal, the metropolis, and many people who have jobs in Montreal reside in these outskirts, thus enjoying the benefits of rural life on the south shore.
Several municipalities of my constituency have spent money and developed an overall plan under which public services such as
National Housing Act
sewers, water distribution, sidewalks, streets, etc. were provided in order to promote house building and qualify for loans under the National Housing Act. If the municipalities make sacrifices, it would seem that this legislation could be improved, particularly by lowering from 2 to 1 per cent the rate charged by the government to insure these loans. Since 1954, the government has accumulated, from this source, a profit of several million dollars. I realize that this insurance premium seemed warranted at first, but I do not think it was the intention of the government of the day to have this corporation accumulate profits at the expense of home buyers.
Experience has been favourable. The corporation has had to take back only one unit of all houses bought under this marvelous legislation, and then sold it at a profit. It would be good now to lower this rate and to have the small house owner benefit by saving the substantial amount of $125 or $150 a unit. As to those accumulated millions, the government could use them to buy off, at pro rata, the loans granted by finance companies, which would allow them to reinvest in new loans. Another suggestion which seems very appropriate would be to reduce the interest rate of 6 per cent to 5 per cent, as is being done in the United States. An interest rate of 6 per cent is prohibitive, and of no benefit either to the owner or the buyer.
It is easier for the government to borrow than it is for loan companies or institutions. It can, at no cost to itself, afford a rebate of $1,000 to $1,200 in interest over a period of 25 years, in favour of the worker or wage earner who seeks to improve his standard of living. In fact, if the government can afford to loan money without interest to western farmers, and loan several million dollars at 4 per cent interest to the Hamilton Harbour Commission, $30 million to the government of New Brunswick, etc., why should it not be able to provide loans at a reasonable interest to house buyers?
The down payment should also be lowered so that not more than $700 or $800 on a $12,000 or $13,000 house should be required, especially so when many municipalities went out of their way to provide public services to help prospective house owners. When the down payment is too high, it becomes prohibitive for workers with a family, particularly for young married couples who have a house to furnish, and other contingent expenses.
National Housing Act
We must put our trust in these young people who represent the future of our country. There is no greater satisfaction for a human being, whatever his status in life, than to own his home and be able to provide adequate housing for his family. I therefore urge the government to consider these suggestions with a realistic and unbiased mind. The government should not forget the promises made during the last election. This is the time to show that they meant what they said, for in a few months it will be too late.
As the price of the lot is an important factor in the cost of a house, I appeal to the government to take whatever steps are necessary to put a stop to the shameless practices of exploiters who take advantage of our farmers' good faith, take up options on farm property, make the farmer sign unfair contracts, and then resell those lands at fancy prices, which only increases the cost of houses at the expense of the buyer.