Alfred Claude ELLIS

ELLIS, Alfred Claude, B.A., B.Ed.

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Regina City (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
November 2, 1919
Deceased Date
October 1, 1997

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Regina City (Saskatchewan)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Regina City (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 209 of 210)

November 30, 1953

Mr. Ellis:

It is a correction of a misstatement of fact.

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November 30, 1953

Mr. Ellis:

Yes, on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Reference was made to Dr. Carlyle King. For the hon. member's information, if he is so misinformed, I may say that Dr. King is professor of English.

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November 26, 1953

Mr. Ellis:

It has been a long night and we are still waiting. Nothing is mentioned in the speech from the throne about health insurance. I submit that health grants do not constitute health insurance. Of course they are welcome as they meet a very important need in this country. But I believe that the people, at least the people in my constituency, want an over-all system of health


The Address-Mr. Ellis insurance applicable throughout the country. That is what they want and I think that was a very important factor in the election last August. I do not want to labour this matter as it was dealt with most effectively by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

There is one other matter which I feel is of great urgency at the present moment. This was also an issue that played a great part in the campaign last August. I refer to the need of housing. I think if we were to survey the problems confronting the people of Canada today we would find that the problem which causes, more than anything else, heartache, disillusionment and discouragement among vast numbers of our people, is the inability to obtain adequate housing.

We hear of friends, relatives and others who in many instances have to pay over half their income for rent. I know of some who are paying over $100 a month rent for basement suites and even then they are told that they are fortunate to have them. Social welfare authorities have indicated that only a certain percentage of a person's income should be used for housing, that if you spend too much of your income on housing you must neglect other necessaries of life: you have to cut down on food or on your expenditures on health and clothing. There is only a certain amount of money which a person can make available for housing.

The situation is that there are many people in this country who find' themselves in the position where they are paying over half their income as rent for inadequate housing. This is not a new problem, it is something that has been with us for a long time. In the Curtis report the government outlined the picture very clearly in 1944. That report stated quite categorically that about one-third of the people in the low income groups in this country never could enjoy reasonable housing without government subsidy.

What has been done about it? It is true that houses have been built, but many of them were not designed to meet the need for low-cost housing. There are not many in this country who are able to pay $16,000 or $20,000 for a house. There are not many of our people who are in position to make a down payment or go out and buy a lot. Many young people starting out in married life find themselves in the position where they cannot get adequate housing. They are not in a position to go into the market and buy a house at today's prices. The government has failed with respect to low-cost housing.

[Mr. Ellis.1

This problem has been referred to, not only in the Curtis report but in other ways, and I would refer particularly to a recent publication of the Canadian House Builders Association which announced that at the beginning of 1952 there were around half a million Canadian families who were not occupying homes of their own, who were doubled up, who were overcrowded, who were living in basement suites. I have here an item taken from the Gazette for November 20 of this year. It states:

The accumulated demand for new homes remains large. D. B. Mansur, president of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, estimated that the number of Canadian families is currently about 10 per cent higher than the number of available housing units. The shortage has eased since 1946, when the corresponding figure was 12 per cent.

We are still faced with the situation in the country where there are ten per cent more families than there are houses. What is going to be done about it? There is a problem there. What has been done thus far has been done by using free enterprise methods. What is the picture?

I have here an article which appeared in the Financial Post last year dealing with the housing situation in Canada. It points out- and I think it is quite significant because I think it indicates the basic cause of our failure to meet the housing problem in this country-that the government has relied upon the agencies of free enterprise. But free enterprise is interested in building homes only if, through the building of those homes, invested capital can earn a higher rate of income than by investing in, for example, pool halls or breweries or any other type of building construction or any other type of business. Finally the situation is simply this. I am quoting now from the Financial Post:

"Housing must compete for the savings dollar. At the moment, it's not competing very well."

That's the blunt statement of Canada's housing facts by an official of a large lending company.

This is what he meant.

We're "over the hump" in the big post-war backlog of unsatisfied demand from the war years and the thirties.

We are over the hump. That is the opinion of a lending institution. As far as it is concerned we no longer have a housing problem. Once they have met the needs of those who can pay $16,000 for a house, they are through. There is no more money to be made out of housing. Therefore they will withdraw from the field. The article continues:

There's still a big demand for housing, and with a growing population and expanding economy it will continue. But the need for housing can't be made into effective demand and then actual purchases without money.

Under the private enterprise way of doing things, money will be forthcoming only if that money can return to the investor a higher profit than by investing it in some other line of business. The fact of the matter is that as far as private enterprise is concerned there is not enough money to be made out of housing. There is the key to the housing problem and also the key to the failure of the government to meet the housing problem.

Other countries have had housing problems. In 1945 the coalition government in Great Britain, under the leadership at that time of Winston Churchill, estimated the housing needs or the housing requirements of Great Britain to be three-quarters of a million new houses; that was in 1945. As a result of the aggressive policies of a Labour government, that housing need was met by the end of 1948. What have we done about housing?

I suggest in all sincerity, Mr. Speaker, that here is a problem that will have to be faced. We are told that there is legislation coming down concerning housing. Quite naturally we cannot deal with the details until such time as the bill has been made public. But enough advance information has been given about that bill to enable us to surmise that it is not going to make a real frontal attack on the problem at all. It is going to assist a great many people who have perhaps enough money to make a down payment, but it is not going to meet the low-cost housing needs of the people of this country. It seems to me it is going to result in the government surrendering completely to private enterprise the last interest it has in housing.

I suppose it is easy for people to be critical. Perhaps it is a little bit more difficult to make positive proposals. But I think that we in this group have for some time now made proposals to the Canadian people which we feel will bring an improvement in the housing situation and will eventually overcome the problem entirely. Speaking in Toronto last week the hon. member for Rose-town-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) reiterated what we in this group have been arguing for some time. We have argued that this matter ought not to be left in the hands of private enterprise when private enterprise is interested in housing only when it can make money out of housing. It is not concerned with meeting a social need. We in this group maintain that housing is a social problem and it has got to be treated as such. We have got to take the entire idea of profits out of housing to satisfy that need. That is what we have

The Address-Mr. Drew argued, and it was brought out by our leader, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar, in a speech in Toronto on Saturday when he stated that our group had consistently advocated a housing program which would provide for a lower interest rate, an interest rate of two per cent.

It should not be a question of making money out of housing. It is rather shameful to think of making profits out of human need. In addition to lower interest rates, we further propose to extend the amortization period to thirty years; and to lower the down payment to ten per cent. If that were done, Mr. Speaker, it would enable a Canadian citizen to purchase, for example, a $10,000 home, with a $1,000 down payment and at monthly payments of $33.20. This is our proposal. It appears sound and logical. It is one answer to the housing problem. We in this group do not believe in making criticism without, after having made the criticism, offering some positive alternative.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) has made as the subject of his amendment what he feels to be the failure of the government to live up to the traditional policies of free enterprise. I suggest that the failure to solve our housing problem has simply been because the government has stuck to the principles of free enterprise. Sometimes when we debate this question of free enterprise, it tends to become a little bit academic; but it is not an academic subject. It is something that reaches down into every facet of our lives and touches every problem faced by the Canadian people. Basically it can be reduced to a question of the fundamentals.

I do not want to take any more of the time of the house. It is my first speech. I want to be reasonably short. But I should like to urge the government to consider the adoption at this session of a housing program which will meet the low-cost housing needs of the people of Canada.

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November 26, 1953

Mr. Claude Ellis (Regina City):

Mr. Speaker, let me preface my remarks this afternoon by expressing to you a deep feeling of humility on this occasion when I make my first effort at debate in this house. I am deeply conscious of the great honour bestowed on me on August 10 last by the citizens of Regina in selecting me as their spokesman in this house.

I should like to state at the outset, Mr. Speaker, one observation that I have made as a new member, one completely inexperienced in parliamentary matters. I have been greatly impressed by the manner in which you have

conducted the affairs of this assembly. Your conduct as Speaker has impressed me as being dignified, impartial and courteous.

I would be remiss in my responsibility, Mr. Speaker, if I did not avail myself of this opportunity in the throne speech debate to put before the house a number of matters which I feel to be of great concern not only to the constituents in Regina but to the people throughout the country generally. Regina is an urban constituency, yet at the outset I want to associate myself with the remarks made by other hon. members from this group and from my own province respecting the very serious problem pertaining to agriculture in that province. We in Regina realize only too well that the prosperity of our city depends upon the prosperity of the surrounding agricultural territory. A falling farm income is going to be reflected in a lower volume of business in the city. That will mean less business and the employment picture within the city will be affected.

I will go further and say that the agricultural problems facing this country are not only the concern of those who represent rural constituencies, nor are they solely the responsibility of western constituencies or agricultural areas in the maritimes. These problems must be faced by the country as a whole. Our basic industry of agriculture must be in a sound economic condition if the country is to prosper.

There is one matter I should like to draw to the attention of hon. members of this house which has reference to a question asked a number of days ago with respect to certain civil servants in the city of Regina. It will be recalled that when the Postmaster General (Mr. Cote) was asked why there should be a differential between the wages paid postal workers in Regina and those paid civil servants of the Saskatchewan government, the hon. member for Ottawa West (Mr. Mcllraith) made an interesting comment when he said, "they are organized". At that point the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) replied, "that is the point".

That is exactly the point. I think all hon. members welcomed the recent announcement of increases for the civil servants. But I think the time has come in this country when we should recognize that there is a better method of carrying on employer-employee relations. We have got beyond the concept of master and servant; we have come to accept the principle of collective bargaining in business and in industry. In my province the civil servants send their representatives to meet the representatives of the government around the table as equal partners to negotiate their wage differences.

The Address-Mr. Ellis

As some hon. members know, a month or so ago an agreement was reached in that province between the government and its civil servants which not only provided substantial increases but which set a standard which might well be followed by all governments with respect to questions of wages, hours of work and so forth as between employer and employee. I think the time has come when the government should make overtures to the civil servants to the end that in the future the civil servant will not have to come to the government cap in hand to ask for long-overdue wage increases but rather that the representatives of that body will meet with the government and after deliberating and discussing all aspects of the problem come to an agreement which is mutually satisfactory to both parties.

The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), the leader of this group, has introduced a subamendment criticizing the failure of the government to announce its intention to introduce a nation-wide health insurance plan with provisions for provincial participation. We are perhaps coming close to the time when a vote will be taken on that subamendment. I feel that this is a very important problem and I believe it is of special significance to us in the city of Regina. As hon. members know, the former member from Regina was parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Health and Welfare and consequently health proposals played a large part in the campaign last August.

We were told of all the things the federal government had done in the field of health. It was suggested that the government was ready to embark on an ambitious program of health insurance, yet what do we find at this first session of the new parliament? Not one word is mentioned about health insurance. The other night the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre dealt with this problem most effectively and reminded us that health insurance was first promised by the Liberals in 1919. We have been waiting ever since. Statements attributed to the minister have been to the effect that we cannot do this overnight. What kind of night is it that extends from 1919 to 1953?

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November 19, 1953

Mr. Ellis:

May I ask a supplementary question? Is the Postmaster General aware of the differential between the wages paid post office workers in the city of Regina and those paid by the provincial government to their civil servants?

Subtopic:   POST OFFICE
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