October 24, 1949 (21st Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert McCubbin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture)


Mr. Robert McCubbin (Parliamentary-Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture):

Friday last the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) asked a question of the Minister of Agriculture. In the absence of both the minister and myself the Prime Minister said the matter would be brought to the

attention of the department, and I have an answer now which I should like to give to the house.
The termite problem in Canada is confined to an area in Toronto east of Yonge street and south of Danforth. These insects are found only within an area of three and one-half miles by one and one-half miles, definitely affecting a total area of approximately 250 acres. They occur in eight separate locations of varying sizes, most of them considerably distant from each other. Termites were first encountered in Toronto in 1940. Since then they have been under observation by officers of the Department of Agriculture. A thorough and systematic survey in 1948 and 1949, using 600 natural baits at various points throughout the city, gave no suggestion of spread of consequence in Toronto itself; and 1,500 similar baits at various points throughout the southern counties of Ontario failed to show a single occurrence. The results of the study and survey substantially confirm the opinion of the leading termite specialist of the United States Department of Agriculture who studied the situation, that the insect had been present in Toronto for many years and may have been native to the locality upon which the infested part of the city has been built.
During the period in which termites have been known to occur in Toronto, officials of the Department of Agriculture have kept the city of Toronto fully informed, through the commissioner of buildings and by conferences with the mayor from time to time, and have kept the authorities of the province of Ontario informed in detail through the provincial entomologist. In co-operation with the latter, bulletins of advice with respect to the control of this insect have been made available to all concerned in the quantities required.
The results arising from studies of termites in the United States over many years were reviewed by officers of the Department of Agriculture, and, in light of Toronto conditions, certain changes in the building code of the city were recommended to the suitable authorities with a view to avoiding infestation in further construction.
The point of view of the Department of Agriculture has been that control of these insects, and permanent measures to be taken in protection of buildings in Toronto, are the responsibility of those whose properties are affected, and that the department holds itself responsible only for investigation of the problem, tendering of advice, and direction as to what should be done to ameliorate the condition. The department has suggested that in each of the infested areas meetings

might be held at which small-scale demonstrations of protective measures be undertaken, and is quite prepared to co-operate by providing the advisory services necessary. This is the usual method of approach to such a problem in the control of insects in agriculture which are from their nature manifestly a matter of local concern.

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