VERVILLE (Maissoneuve) moved the second reading of Bill (No. 21) respecting the hours of labour on public works. He said: In moving the second reading of this Bill, I do not propose to go at length
into details, inasmuch as a discussion took place last year when this Bill was before the House. At that time it was proven conclusively that the hours of labour ought to be shortened. Of course, during that discussion it developed that some hon. members were in favour of the measure, and some were opposed to it; others stated that they had not had time to give to the Bill the careful study which a measure of its importance deserved. I think, Sir, that if the hon. members of this House gave as much care and as keen study to this Bill as some of them give to Bills of private interest, this measure would already have been enacted into law. Now during the discussion last year it was stated that by shorten! ng the hours from 10 to 8, or from 9 to 8, we would probably diminish production by one-fifth. At that time the Minister of Labour, then the Postmaster General, stated that he had not studied the measure, but he believed that it would have the effect of reducing production by one-fifth. It was proven clearly by those who spoke in favour of the Bill that such was not the case. It was also shown on that occasion that the deputy Minister of Labour had made investigations in British Columbia, and recommended the adoption of an eight hour law for the miners. It was also proven that in Alberta they had adopted an eight hour day, and that a commission had been appointed in other provinces to study the question.
Of course, it may be said, that we should leave this question to the different provinces to discuss and pass laws upon. I claim that this government must be a model employer, that we should start at the head and pass a law on this subject so that we can at least study the question from observing its operation. During the discussion last year some hon. members of this House said that long hours of labour had no effect mentally or physically upon man. Is it reasonable to believe that long hours of labour, especially in some of our large industries, will not have a detrimental effect, morally, physically and otherwise, on our working people? The question of the rate of wages has nothing whatever to do with the Bill before the House. Some hon. gentlemen say that if you shorten the hours of labour organized labour will want more money. I want to know if this House has anything to do with that question. Let the working people ask what they think is right and let them discuss it with their employers. The hon. member for Chicoutimi (Mr. Girard), when we were discussing this question last year, remarked that fifteen hours of labour was not any too long for farm hands. I claim that there is a vast difference between working on a farm, or in the open air, and working in the large industries of the country. Then, some one made the statement that the best way to
solve the problem was to abolish day work altogether and let everybody work by the hour and work as long as he chose. Are we in this twentieth century going to allow every man to work as many hours as he likes? Are we not supposed to protect the weak members of society? That is why ten, and nine hour laws have been passed in different states of the United States., Last year, while this discussion was on, one hon. member of the House-I believe it was the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson-made the statement that this was class legislation. I would like to know what kind of legislation we generally pass if it is not class legislation. It is all class, legislation. There are classes of one kind and classes of another kind, but we never specify it as being class legislation unless it is legislation in the interests of labour. It was stated that I wanted to make a lion of myself by posing as a defender of labour in this House. I have nothing to fear and I have nothing to hide in connection with my conduct and the labour movement in this country or in this House, tinder these conditions it is absolutely unfair to bring such a charge against me. To command the respect of my fellow workers in this country it is not necessary, as some hon. members have asserted, to bring a measure of this kind before the House and I am not actuated by any such motive. If I have brought this measure before the House it is because I am perfectly convinced that it is absolutely necessary for this and every other parliament to study this question and study it at as early a date as possible in order to bring relief to those who are labouring to-day under trying conditions. It was stated further that the country is not quite ready for a measure of this kind. The question was also asked: Why should we give more leisure to the men who are working for the government than to others, and why should we be asked to adopt legislation of this kind in the interest of government employees any more than for any body else? That will be fopnd on the * Hansard ' of last year. I believe that it was the hon. member for Halton who used these words. I am a young man, I am not as old a parliamentarian as my hon. friend, but I studied the rules of this House when I came here and I saw that it was impossible under the British North America Act for any body to present legislation in respect to this subject except it had reference to the men who were working for the government. When it is asked: How is
it possible to grant an eight hour day on one side of the street and a ten hour day on the other, I reply that this parliament has nothing to do with that. All we have to do is to consider whether it is necessary to have a shorter day. I shall not take up the time of the house by quoting., from magazines and books, but I could present Mr. VERVILLE.
a great deal of evidence to prove that there is an almost universal call for a shorten working day. It was stated that it will demoralize production. Are we willing to admit that it will demoralize production especiallv when it was proven last year that we could produce as much with a shorter day than we can under present conditions? Then, there is the question of the unemployed, and it will be admitted by all that we want to make more work so that those who are now unemployed may have something to do. But, it may bq said, if you agree that we can produce as much in a short hour day as in a long one, how is it possible that we are going to give work to the unemployed? I answer by giving greater purchasing power to a man than he has at the present time. Is it not reasonable to believe that if a man is not working his purchasing power is diminished, while if you give a man a chance to work it will create a demand for larger production because he will have more means and therefore greater purchasing power. If you give more leisure time to those who now work such long hours you will give them a chance to better their condition. Is it not a fact that as soon as we improve our condition we are anxious to get a little better living. This is a perfectly legitimate 'desire on the part of everybody and therefore by improving the conditions of the workingman you are increasing his purchasing power and consequently increasing the need of greater production. Over production? During the great financial depression of last year, or the year before, it was said in the papers and in other places that labour was to a certain extent responsible for that great financial depression? I would like to ask any member of this House if the workers were not as steady at their work then as they were before? They were, but notwithstanding that we had depression. When depression comes over-production comes as a result of it. During the depression to which I have referred the stores were full of goods from top to bottom and every man in the country was wearing as many clothes as he was before. There was over-production because there were too many hours of labour in the . different industries. With the improved methods and machinery that we now have at our disposal there is liable to be overproduction, especially during good times when, in the large industries, people are sometimes working night and day. They believe they will make money by doing this. But, if they believe that they can make more money by increasing the hours of work they make the greatest mistake of their lives, because they are over-producing, and when the market is full of goods they are obliged to close our doors. If they close the door of an industry for two or three months the purchasing power of men
who are idle for a space of time is not the same as it would be if they were working steadily. The shortening of the hours of labour would to some extent solve the difficult problem of the unemployed. I am ready to thank the government for having appointed a Minister of Labour who can devote all his time and energy to the study of labour questions, and the fact that the labour people of this country have asked for the creation of such a portfolio for years and years past shows the necessity for it. When the Minister of Labour takes part in the debate to-day I hope he will he able to assure us that the eight hour day movement will be recognized by the government. Now, a couple of years since the hon. member for Hants brought before the House a resolution asking this government to aid in the prevention of the white plague. Is it not well known to the medical men of this country that it is in the large industrial establishments that the white plague starts, and very often finishes? Would not one of the best means of preventing the white plague be to give the workingmen of Canada a chance to breathe the pure air of Heaven? How often is it that you see labour men go to the country for a few weeks or even a few days in the summer, by the lake shore, or the sea shore or in the forest; it is very seldom indeed they can afford to get a day's vacation. If we shorten the hours of labour we will enable the working people to enjoy some of the privileges which Providence has placed at the disposal of human beings, and I am sure hon. gentlemen will agree with me that this is all the more important in regard to factories where female and child labour is' employed. Further, I think that if any gentleman in this House study the conditions of labour in America and Europe as well as in Canada, they will come to the conclusion that ninety per cent of the people are not clothed as they ought to be. I shall practice what I preach and be brief in my remarks, and in conclusion, I hope that the Minister of Labour will have something to say in favour of this measure, and that it will not be pushed along on the road to the cemetery as a good many similar measures have been. I beg to move the second reading of this Bill.
_ Mr. A. C. MACDONELL (South Toronto), i agree with the hon. gentleman (Mr. Ver-ville) that this is an extremely important measure, but at the same time I have to remark that the hon. gentleman himself has not been wonderfully active in promoting the best interests of the Bill. I made a short examination of the previous fates of this Bill and I find that it was first introduced by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Verville) on the 11th of December, 1906, when he said:
The object of the Bill is to establish an eight hour day upon all public works throughout the country. It is not my intention to discuss the merits of the Bill at the present time as they will be discussed on the second reading. The Bill as it stands has no effect on wages to be paid on public works.
Then the Bill was read the first time, and the last time for that session. The Bill was again introduced by the hon. gentleman on the 14th of February, 1908, when it was read a first time, and that was the end of it. Then we come to last session when the hon. gentleman (Mr. Verville)-the Bill having been introduced previously-on the 27th of April, 1909, very shortly before the close of the session, moved:
That order 35 of the Public Bills and Orders for the second reading of Bill (No. 22) respecting hours of labour on public works be now called for the purpose of it being discharged on the Order Paper.
Because its discharge will enable me to bring the matter before the House this session in another form. The question as to the hours of labour on public works is, I consider, of considerable importance at the present time.
The Bill then made its exit for the third time and was not again introduced as a Bill or in any other form that session. Now, Mr. Speaker, this question is before the people of this country as it is before the people of the neighbouring republic, and as a humble member of this House I think parliament should dispose of it in some businesslike manner. The American Congress has been dealing with this question for a great many years, and Bills have been introduced and discussed. I have in my hand a copy of what I think was the last Bill introduced during the , session of 1904, and I see by a recent utterance of the president of the United States that he has declared his intention of in some way having the matter dealt with at the approaching session of Congress. One reason why I say this present Bill should be dealt with by parliament is that if you look at its contents you will find that its name is a misnomer. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Verville) has persistently called it 'an Act respecting the hours of labour on public works,' but as the Bill is submitted to the House it contains provisions of the most drastic nature. It is not a Bill regulating the hours of labour upon public works of the country, and if it were I think there are many hon. gentlemen in this House who would be willing to go some distance to regulate the hours of labour which the government would permit on its works or which it would allow its contractors to exact. I believe that such a proposition would be favourably considered by a great many members in this House, but the Bill sub-
mitted by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Ver-ville) is not designed to earry out that object. As a matter of fact this Bill as it is worded-as any gentleman of the legal profession will see if he reads it-would prohibit the government or the contractors for the government from going into the markets of the world to purchase any material whatsoever which was produced under a system which required the workmen who produced it to work more than eight hours a day. The government might make a contract to purchase uniforms in one department or to purchase groceries in another department, and if any of the work on any of the component parts of any articles the government so purchased were not confined to an eight hour day, then the whole contract would be void, and no matter how much value was given to the government under it, the contractor would not be able to recover one dollar, and the result would be disastrous. In other words, the Bill before the House would void and vitiate every contract the government might make for the purchase of materials, provided that any of the articles so purchased had been turned out of a shop or factory in which work of more than eight hours a day had been exacted. Now, that is altogether impossible and not at all in the interest of those who are asking for this legislation. The American Act has been drawn with much more care. That Act on more than one occasion has gone to a select committee of the Houae of Bepresentatives, and an immense mass of testimony has been taken by that committee on the prospective operation of the Act. There have been at least, as I have found, two commissions on the subject. The report of the last commission, appointed during the year 1904, I hold in my hand. It is entitled:
Eight Hours on Government Work-Hearing before the Commission on Labour of the House of Representatives on the Bill H.E. 4064, intituled, a Bill Limiting the Hours of Daily Service of Labourers and Mechanics Employed upon Work done for the United States, or for any Territory, or for the District of Columbia or for Other Purposes.
The Bill is a very much more modified form of legislation of this nature than the Bill before this House. I will not burden the House by reading it, as it is somewhat lengthy. After dealing with the main features of the legislation intended to be enacted, it provides that the Act shall not extend to the following matters:
Nothing in this Act shall apply to contracts for transportation by land or water, or for the transmission of intelligence, or for such materials or articles as may usually be bought in open market, whether made to conform I to particular specifications or not, or for the | purchase of supplies by the government, whe-
tlier manufactured to conform to particular specifications or not. The proper officer on behalf of the United States, and territory, or the district of Columbia may waive the provisions and stipulations in this -Act during time of war or a time when war is imminent, or in any other case when in the opinion of the inspector or any other officer in charge any great emergency exists. No penalties shall be imposed for any violation of such provision in such contract due to any emergency caused by fire, famine, or flood, by danger to life or to property, or by other extraordinary event or condition.
The American Bill also gives the contractor the right of appeal first, to the head of the department under which the work is being done- and, secondly, to the executive government or to one of the courts of the country. So that in the American Act there are not only various exceptions, which seem to me, at first sight, to be reasonable, but also provision for an appeal in case any person considers himself aggrieved under the operation of the Act. The matter in my opinion is entirely for the government to deal with. Perhaps the hon. gentleman who has introduced the Bill may indulge the hope that it will have a better fate than the resolution which was introduced into this House a few days ago by the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie). Be that as it may, the government should, in my opinion, grapple with this question. We all in this House sympathize with labouring men. At the same time, this is a matter that has to be proceeded with cautiously and prudently, or it will revolutionize the condition of the country. It is a matter on which, in my opinion, this House is not well enough informed at the present time to deal with. The American Congress on more than one occasion found it convenient to refer the question to a select committee to obtain evidence and make recommendations thereon. On the other side of the line they are still in that stage; and it seems to me that if this matter were dealt with in a similar way, so that the various interests affected might get their views before parliament or a committee of parliament, a Bill might de drafted which would in a reasonable way meet the demands, so far as they are just, along this line. If the government chooses to refer the Bill to a committee, before whom all parties and all interests affected will be heard and considered, I for one will back them up. It is not going too far, at this stage in our history, I think, to advance the matter to that extent. If that were done, the matter, in some concrete form and intelligible manner, could be brought before the House and dealt with. It is not in such shape, in my opinion, at present. The Bill is altogether an impossible one; but the practice might be carried into certain of the public works of the country, with proper safeguards, after having the
hearing I suggest. If that were done, it seems to me we would have the matter advanced, and no harm could come to any interest. It is not an expensive matter. The committee could be confined to hearing evidence on this point, and could report at this session.
EDWaRDS (Frontenac). There are one or two features of the Bill introduced by the hon. member for Maison-neuve (Mr. Yerville) to which, in the interest of the people I represent, I wish to draw attention. The proposition to reduce the hours of labour on government works to eight hours a day will, in my estimation, undoubtedly have an effect on other labourers. I can imagine that as soon as the system was introduced on government work, labourers working on other jobs would in a short time be agitating for an eight hour day also. That seems to me only reasonable. But the point to which I wish to direct the attention of the House is that this will undoubtedly affect the agricultural classes. It is well known that one of the great problems in Ontario and the older provinces is that of getting farm labour. We also know that it is utterly impossible to have an eight hour day on the farm. It seems to me, therefore, that the passage of a Bill of this kind could not fail to have the effect of increasing the difficulty which farmers now experience in obtaining the labour they need so very much.
As regards the plea made by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville), on which he grew particularly eloquent, that of giving opportunity to the labouring men to breathe the pure air of heaven, I might say that his argument only applied to a part of the population, because, according to the principle laid down very clearly and decisively by the Minister of Finance not later than yesterday, none but Grits, so far as government work is concerned, need apply, so that the pure air of heaven, though it might be given to Grit labourers under this Bill, would still be denied to any who happened to be of the Tory persuasion.
Another feature to which I would call attention is this. This measure must inevitably interfere with labour in large manufacturing concerns. Suppose it should pass and be applied to government contracts, if the government contracted with a large cement firm for some thousands of barrels of cement, is it not likely that the men employed by that firm would make a demand that they should be given the eight hour day, inasmuch as the work they were doing was to supply a government contract? That is all I have to say in connection with this Bill except this, that I cannot agree with the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. yerville) that a man will do as much in eight hours as in nine. Carry that out to its logical conclusion, and it will mean that 39
a man will do just as much in one day as in two. In any event there is a feeling throughout the country that men employed in government work, do not kill themselves, that they take things comparatively easy, and there is also the impression that in many cases men are employed on government works a few months before the elections, and employed solely to get their votes. I might refer, as an instance of this, to the facts in connection with the construction of the Newmarket canal, on which the number of men employed was very considerably increased just previous to the last election. In conclusion I would repeat that the passage of a measure such as this would make the obtaining of farm labour still more difficult than it is to-day, and that is my chief reason for addressing the House on the subject.
This is a public Bill which will have a very direct influence on a very large number of people in this country should it become law, and while, generally ' speaking, I am in favour of any proposal tending to shorten the hours of labour. I am afraid that my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) has gone rather far in the measure he has introduced. During the past four or five years I have given this matter much consideration. I have discussed it to some extent with various representative bodies in my riding; and so far as the Bill is limited in its application to public works, in the strictest sense of the term-the erection of buildings or works of that nature-I think we might fairly give the system a trial and see what would be its effects. It would practically apply only to the building trades. I cannot see that any great harm would follow. In the city of Guelph where I reside, in all the building trades now they have the nine hour day. It is not so many years since they had the ten hour day, and the nine hour day has come about without legislation, and I do not think that it has injuriously affected the hours of labour in the factories or on the farms in that county. In that respect I do not think the Bill will have any such effect as my hon. friend fears, but as has been pointed out by the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell), it goes much further than government contracts and will embrace every kind of contract. One can well understand what difficulty would be created should the Bill pass in its present form. Take a contract for the supply of clothing or furniture to the government. A manufacturer tenders and is awarded the contract. That contract will not occupy his whole staff, probably only a small portion, and, under this Bilk that contractor would have one portion of his men working eight hours and another nine or ten hours. I can see difficulties of that kind, but I would like to see the Bill
The promoter of this Bill wants to reduce the hours of labour from ten to eight. But suppose I am a government contractor and this Bill becomes law, and I am paying my men $2 a day for a ten hour day. Under the provisions of this Bill, I would have to shorten the day to eight hours and I would reduce my wages to $1.60 per day. How would the hon. gentleman meet a case of that kind?
I do not believe that we have any right to deal with the question of wages. There is nothing in the Bill that speaks of wages. If it should become law, it would be up to the employer to pay whatever he believed right, and it would be up to the men to insist on being paid what they deemed just.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) in introducing this Bill. I have read also the hon. member's remarks on introducing a similar Bill last session. The hon. member has gone to a good deal of trouble in carrying out research upon this question, and in bringing before the House facts concerning the hours of labour. In the province of British Columbia, in the year 1901, we dealt to some extent with this question in relation to the mines. Then, as now, there was the struggle between the two great parties interested, the employer on one side and the workmen on the other. But we were fortunate in that we introduced then an eight-hour law, and I am glad Mr. GUTHRIE.
to be able to testify here that the results of the operation of that law have been eminently satisfactory. I can state from personal knowledge that, up to_ the introduction of the Eight Hour Bill, in that portion of the country with which I am most familiar, the mining district of the Kootenay, only a small percentage of the labouring men owned their homes, or, apparently, took any interest in their homes. Any one familiar with that district at that time is aware that the homes of miners were usually shacks and the occupants paid little attention to the improvement of the surroundings, or of the home itself. Since the introduction of this eight hour law, that has been greatly changed. A large number of miners have purchased and now own their own homes and are active in improving their surroundings. They have a certain amount of daylight at home, which,
under old conditions, they could not have. With the ten hour day in the mines, it meant practically twelve
hours, as any one will understand. Men had to rise long before daylight in the morning to get to their work, and they usually did not return until after dark. It was generally said, and very truly, that the men hardly saw their families in daylight from one end of the year to the other. Since the introduction of the eight hour law that has been changed. The effect has been a marked change in the men of the mining district, as I have described. That is an argument that ought to be of weight with the House. Surely, in this advanced age,-with our great improvements in machinery and our rapid advance in -many lines of economic improvement, the labouring men should have some share in these improvements and the benefits to be derived from them. It has been said that the adoption of such a measure as is here proposed would lead to shortening the hours of labour in other avocations, and it is inferred that it would be detrimental to the agricultural interests. I venture to think the conditions of work in agriculture are altogether different from those of the classes of labour to which this measure is intended to apply. Their harvest makes special demands upon those engaged in agriculture, and during certain seasons they naturally work from daylight till dark. But, during a considerable portion of the year, they have time for recreation and improving their minds. This Bill, if I understand it aright, is meant primarily to apply to those engaged in labour under factory conditions or in the building trades. I have listened with pleasure to the arguments of the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell). Speaking as a layman, it seems to me that the hon. member's argument carries considerable weight. It is right and wise that, in a case of this kind,
we should carefully consider all the circumstances and get all the light possible. I would not undertake to dispute the arguments advanced by the hon. member for South Toronto and the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), who are, of course, well informed on the legal aspects of this question. On the contrary, I think it would be in the interest of the Bill itself that we should move very carefully. Should any mistake be made, instead of advancing the interests of labour, which, of course, is the object sought by the introducer of the Bill, the very purpose in view might be defeated. Therefore, I think the suggestion made by these gentlemen was a very wi-se one-that we should carefully weigh all the facts in this case, so that when we place a measure of this kind on the statute-book it may be one that we are sure will be of advantage to working men generally and will be accepted by all fair-minded men as promoting the best interest of all classes.
(Translation). Mr. Speaker, the matter which has been brought to the attention of the House suggests a few remarks. In the first place, I notice that this Bill which, on a previous occasion, was submitted to the House but at the time did not reach the committee stage, is this year introduced earlier. That is an improvement which I am happy to note and which, I think, portends a better outcome to this proposed legislation.
It has been contended by opponents of the measure that its enforcement would be objectionable. For instance, it has been alleged that, should this Bill be carried, it would result in serious inconvenience to contractors on government public works now under contract, as said contractors could no longer expect a ten-hour day on the part of their men, but only an eight-hour day. They would thus find themselves in a disadvantageous position, since they would get only eight hours' work for ten hours pay. That may be so, but let me say that there are precedents to legislation of this kind, and I have no hestitation in saving that to my mind this is a desirable change.
We have in the civil service, for instance, men whose work is pretty much, if not entirely, the same as that carried on by men engaged in commercial and industrial pursuits; nevertheless, we find that their hours of work are different, that their day's work is much shorter than in the case of people doing such outside work. Now, who, thinks of complaining of this? Nobody, to my knowledge. True, the government official may be called upon to do more work, to show greater efficiency, to expend greater energy, to bring greater powers to bear on his work, and that may justify the requirement of shorter hours from him. We are satisfied with shorter hours from our government officials, but we require from them greater concentration of the mind and more rapid work.
Now, I think that this precedent to be found in the management of the various departments, might well have its counterpart in manual occupations. For I understand that the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) voices here the views of the working classes in general, of men in all the various trades and handicrafts. Considering that an exception is made in favour of the civil servant, why should not a similar measure of relief be extended to that class of people who, while getting a living through what is actually manual labour, are performing duties quite similar to those of some public servants. As a matter of fact, I take it that there is a close connection between the mental work carried on in various departments, and the manual labour effected on behalf of those same departments.
I understand that this Bill is not taken excention to on strictly technical grounds; at any rate, I am not aware of any con-. tention to that effect. Now, is such legislation desirable? That is a moot question under many skies. Experiments have been made and in some cases have turned out favourably, as stated by the honourable member who preceded me. Why should we not undertake ourselves some 'such tests? I stated a precedent, there are others. It is known that the men in the service of the Department of Marine at Quebec work nine hours a day in summer and eight hours in winter. Of course, there is a cut in the wages in winter time. That is a practical application of the system advocated by the hon. member for Maisonneuve. In all business and industrial establishments in Quebec, the working hours are from seven or eight o'clock in the morning to five or six o clock in the evening. However, in the government workshops the men work eight hours only, and nobody finds fault with the practice. So, I am satisfied that, if no exception can be taken on technical grounds to the stand of the hon. member for Maisonneuve, the government should put his system to a practical test with a view of drawing conclusions. Several hon. members who have spoken previously [DOT] against this proposal, are to my mind more anxious to forward the interests of employers rather than those of the working men. Fundamentally, it is always the same story; the unceasing struggle going on between labour and capital, between the employed and the employer. There are certain views which are held tenaciously by the employer and which the latter strives to uphold. But there is also the viewpoint ,of the workingman, which he is equally entitled to hold, and
which his representatives in this House axe in duty bound to protect as far as possible. , , .
I am satisfied this Bill does not contain a single provision inimical to the public interest, on the other hand, it extends relief to a numerous class of our people. Besides, I am satisfied that the hon. member for Maisonneuve when vindicating in this House the rights of labour, is in complete sympathy with the labouring classes. I know that he is a member of some powerful labour associations, _ he having been for some time one of their most prominent and active officers, and when lie raises his voice in this House it is their sentiments he expresses, he is the true exponent of the views of labour.
Now, one more consideration should not be lost sight of. As we are aware, laws should not have for their object to safeguard the interests of one class exclusively, and I believe that legislation as it is makes rather for the protection of employers. Some attention should be given to the working classes. Should we not do something towards relieving them from over-exertion, and too much misery, should we not strive to improve their moral and physical conditions? Such is the view which I take, and I object to the dilatory proposal made by the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), who suggests the opening of a protected investigation, the effect of which would be the postponement of the settlement of this question if not indefinitely, at least to such a date when likely all of us would have disappeared from parliament before having been given in the meantime an opportunty to vote on the question. By referring the Bill to the Committee of the Whole the object we have in view will be attained. There shall we consider it, and subject it to a fair criticism, sufficient at any rate to enlighten the government and justify them in trying an experiment which shall give results of an instructive character. It will always be an easy matter to change the law if experience shows that it is in opposition to public interest. However, as already stated, that experiment has been tried in one department, I mean in the Department of Marine at Quebec, where the men are required to work only eight hours per day at certain seasons, and that experiment has given satisfactory results. They are of a nature to induce us to vote in favour of this Bill, and accordingly lay down as a rule that men employed in public works shall not be required to put in more than eight hours work a day. That is, to my mind, what should be done.
I have given more or less attention to the subject of an eight hour day, even before I became a member of this House, and the Mr. TURCOTTE.
result of my reading, together with direct experience of the conditions of labour, have led me into a position of absolute sympathy with the movement of the labour men to secure what is known as a uniform eight hour day. I approve of the principle of an eight hour day, and of the movement which has been inaugurated by organized labour in this and other countries^ to secure an eight hour day. The objections that have been offered to this measure to-day have been largely technical, legal objections. The hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), while in favour of an eight hour day on government buildings alone, is not in favour of this measure, because he says it goes too far. He, in common with many other hon. gentlemen, go upon the assumption that an eight hour day would mean that you would only get eight-tenths as much work in a given space of time. I think hon. gentlemen forget the fact that for years this eight hour day has been in force in various countries. They have it in British Columbia; in Victoria the eight hour day is practically universal. I have in my hand a very excellent work entitled 'Eight hours for work,' written by Mr. John Rae, M.A., published by MacMillan and Company, and I think this is the work from which the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) obtained the material for his speech last session. At the end of the book, I find a chapter entitled ' The eight hour day in Victoria/ and the author quotes figures tending to show the effect of the introduction of the eight hour day there. If the House will permit me, I would like to'read two short extracts showing the effect of such a day m operation in Victoria. Speaking from the figures, he says:
They show the utter folly of the assumption, so much pressed by the more ignorant advocates of an Eight-hours Bill, that the shortening of the day of labour has the necessary, certain, and uniform effect of abolishing the unemployed. .
On the whole the reduction of the working day to eight hours has had no very sensible influence on the numbers of the unemployed in Victoria any more than on the rate of wages, and both these circumstances point to the conclusion, to which other and more direct evidence also conducts, that shortening the day has exercised but very inconsiderable effect on the amount of the workmen s production. A shortening of hours has always two immediate effects-it improves the mettle of the masters, and it improves the mettle of the men. The masters set themselves at once to practise economics of various sorts, to make more efficient arrangements of the work, to introduce better machinery or to speed the old, to try the double shift and other expedients to maintain and even augment the production of their works. The men return to their toil in better heart after their ampler rest, reinvigorated both in nerve and muscle, and make up in the result sometimes in part.
sometimes wholly, by the intensity of their labour for the loss of its duration. Victorian experience shows the recoupment almost completely.
One other short paragraph, showing his conclusion as to the effect of the eight hour day in Victoria:
Altogether, the more we examine the subject the more irresistibly is the impression borne in from all sides that there is growing up in Australia, and very largely in consequence of the eight-hours day, a working class which for general morale, intelligence, and industrial efficiency is probably already superior to that of any other branch of our Anglo-Saxon race, and for happiness, cheerfulness, and all-round comfort of life has never had its equal in the world before. For all this advantage, moreover, nobody seems to be a shilling the worse. It is truly remarkable how immaterial apparently has been the cost of the eight-hours day in Victoria. Look for the effects of it where you will, they still ever elude your observation. Wages have not fallen, wages have not risen, production has not fallen except in certain trifling cases; prices have not risen except again in certain trifling instances; trade has not sufiered, profits have not dwindled (or we should have heard croaking), the unemployed have not vanished, not so much as shrunk in any perceptible degree ; the working classes-the great body of the nation-have an hour more to call their own, that is all.
Now, I may say that organized labour has gone to the various provincial legislatures in this country asking for an eight hour day within the province, and they are invariably met'with the reply: We cannot enact an eight hour day for this province, because our employers would be compelled to produce goods under an eight hour day in competition with the employers of other provinces who work under a ten hour day ; and for that reason we cannot grant your demand; were, however, all the other provinces to enact an eight hour day, we would be very happy to grant your demand. The represeentative of organized labour comes to the House of Commons and presents a Bill. Unfortunately, owing to the limitations imposed upon this House by the British North America Act, we aTe not able to enact a comprehensive measure, and, therefore, we sav to the representative of organized labour: You must go back to the provincial legislatures, there is the place to get your legislation. I may say that so far as this Bill is concerned, even if it had the effect which the interpretation placed upon it by the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) would produce, I am prepared to vote for it. I believe if that measure were adopted this country would be not one whit worse off economically; while the introduction of an eight hour day throughout the Dominion of Canada would have the effect of bringing up a class of labouring men such as those described by this author in Australia. So strongly do I favour this measure that, in snite of the objections that have been urged against it, I shall be pleased to vote for it as it stands.
I have no intention to take up the time of the House in speaking on this measure I was not present last session when the Bill was discussed; I was not approached in any way for or against it at that time. There is a principle, however, involved in this Bill that we must face, we cannot evade it. I listened to the remarks of the hon. member for Kootenay (Mr. Goodeve) and was pleased to hear what he had to say. I endorse what he said; I am a supporter of the principle underlying this Bill and am prepared to vote for it. It is a question we have got to face in this country, and the sooner w'e deal with it in a fair and honourable way the better it will be for the country. There are two features connected with it that appeal to me. We hear much said about the conservation of our natural resources in this country, but the conservation of health is one of the most important things to which we can devote our attention, and this Bill affects health. It also has a bearing on the question of the unemployed. It may effect the profits of some of our industrial concerns, but as between the conservation of health and the diminution of unemployment on the one side and maintaining the profits of capitalists on the other side, I am in favour of it, of looking after the interests of the workinsmen, and allowing a few dividends to be diminished.
I made a few observations on this Bill when it was discussed before the House last time, and I wish to repeat them, or some of them now. Looking over the Bill, as far as my judgment enables me to determine, it is quite impracticable. It is a Bill which never could be put into operation without any amount of trouble as the result. Under a portion of the Bill, any institution that was turning out goods which it had contracted to supply the government would be compelled to grant its men an eight hour day. The Bill aims at that, it seems to me, if it aims at anything. If that be the case, it appears to me that it would bring about no end of trouble. But there is another reason why I oppose it. While I think that in many avocations of life eight hours -a day is ample, and more than enough, for any labourer to work, in other lines he can work eight, nine or ten hours, and neither do himself any injustice nor his health any injury. In mining, when a man has to go under ground, eight hours is a fairly long day, but if you are working out in the open
air where you have conditions of a healthgiving nature, open air and good surroundings, and working at an occupation which is not too severe, a ten-hour day is not an unreasonably long day, and I think there is no injustice done either to the individual or to his physical or mental vigour in expecting him to work that length of day. If all could obtain a living by doing the same thing, that is, work eight hours a day, it might strengthen the argument that you should only allow men to work eight hours a day. But, the strain of life is so great and the demands upon the resources of one's labour so exacting that many are obliged to work ten, eleven or twelve hours a day in order to supply themselves and those dependent upon them with the necessaries of life. Suppose that these people were engaged on government work, you would say to them that they shall not be allowed to earn what they could, or what their physical powers would enable them to earn, or what the demands upon their resources would require them to earn. Therefore, they must stint themselves in some lines because of the effect of this Bill. I say it is wrong. Then, there is another feature of it. If you bring the provisions of this Bill into operation in regard to public works, what will be the result? Go to the city of Toronto, or to the town of Col-iingwood, if you like, and there are public works going on; maybe there is a post office or a customs house going up, harbour works going on, or perhaps there is an armoury being built. Labouring men who can get employment on these government works, receive, say $2 a day, and work for only eight hours a day on one of these pubilc work will not labour in any other line in these places, refuse to work 10 hours a day. Therefore you make it almost impossible for men in other lines of life to get labour and have the labourers work the reasonable number of hours which is supposed to bring a fair return to the contractor. They cannot get men. You can go farther. You can go to the farming community around these places. You cannot employ labourers to go out and work on the farm ten and sometimes eleven or twelve hours a day and accent" the same wages as the man who is only working 8 hours a day; or if you can get labourers to take the wages they will only want to work eight hours a day. i know that it is very troublesome for the farmers around rur towns and villages, where there are factories with shorter hours of labour and paying equally as high wages, to obtain labourers. But, there is another phase of the question wdiich has attracted my attention several times. The agricultural classes of Ibis country represent about fifty per cent of the whole population. There are about
3,500,000 people, depending upon agricul-Mr. SPROULE.
tural pursuits for their sustenance and they are obliged to work long hours. No man can successfully run a farm if he is only working eight hours a day. It has been said that they may work longer during the busy season but that most of the time they can take it easy. The up-to-date enterprising farmer is just -as busy with his work every day in the year as he is during harvest and haying. He is always overcrowded with work instead of having too little to do. Therefore, he is obliged to work long hours. He cannot pretend to run his farm and work only eight hours a day. There are farmers who are obliged to work twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen or even sixteen hours a day during the busy season of seeding, haying and harvest. I have known them to do that over and over again and for what? *-to pay for the implements that are made in the factory where, if this Bill becomes law, the men who make these implements will work only eight hours a day. K is an injustice to the farmer. It is unfair, unreasonable and improper, and it will strike at the great agricultural class just as much as it will at any other class of the community. The factories that are turning out threshing machines, binders, reapers, mowers, seeders, and all such agricultural implements will be obliged to give an eight hour day just as soon as this Bill passes. But the farmer cannot have an eight hour day because he is obliged to work longer hours. He has, therefore, to contend with the difficulty that he meets in the hiring of labour, and he is also confronted with the difficulty that he is obliged himself to work very long hours to pay for the productions of men who do not work as many hours in the day as he does. The farmer cannot get men to work for him to-day.
I admit, speaking from the standpoint of medical observation and examination, that there are those who advocate what is called the ideal division of time. What is that?-that humanity shall labour eight hours, sleep eight hours and have eight hours for rest and recreation during the 24 hours of the day and night. Three times eight make twenty-four hours the length f'f the day. That is an ideal division of time, but where, in any capacity of life, can that ideal division of time be carried out? Is it not the fact that the conditions we have to contend with in our individual capacities and our environment determine the number of hours during which we are compelled to work? There is such a great demand upon the production of our labour or what we make out of our labour, in one case than in another. Therefore, we are obliged to work longer hours to supply that demand or else those dependent upon us will suffer. So you find that in the various lines of work many are obliged to work longer hours to support them-
selves and their families, and if they were not permitted to do this they would suffer in consequence. The hon. member for Kootenay said that they had tried the eight hour day' system in British Columbia and that while people predicted trouble from it the system was working all right now. Well,
I was in British Columbia immediately after that law came into force and in every mining district I visited I was told that mining operations were literally paralyzed by it. For two years after its passage the mining operations of that country were a failure and many engaged in the industry had to go out of business. That is bound to be the case until an adjustment takes place between what is paid a man working eight hours this year and what was paid the same man working ten hours the year before. I say you cannot establish to the * mind of any intelligent man that a working man will do as much in eight hours as he will do in a ten hour day. Of course I recognize that a man may work 10 hours in one kind of labour and not be overworked while in other branches a man may work only eight hours and be overworked, if you are going to try to even it up by a levelling system of eight hours a day you are certainly bound to do an injustice to some classes of labour. There are employers of labour in this country who themselves are obliged to work more than eight hours a day and more than 10 hours a day, and if he expects his employees to do as he is doing he is inflicting no injustice upon them. Now, we are apt to be too much afraid to deal with a question of this kind as we think it ought to be dealt with for fear it will work mischief against us when we come before our electors. I like to see a man with enough moral courage to do what he conscientiously believes to be right regardless of consequences. I believe that the men who are supporting this Bill are supporting it from conscientious convictions, but I believe also that if many hon. gentlemen expressed their opinion of this measure as freely as they do on other measures there would be very strong argument advanced against this Bill.
I am sure that the. workingma i of this country owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. member (Mr. Verville) for having brought, to the attention of this House a Bill which has occasioned such an interesting discussion on this important subject. The Bill is entitled ' An Act respecting hours of labour on public works,' but the discussion has been almost entirely on the broad question of the hours of labour generally. And so far as that broad question is concerned I have no doubt we all feel that anything that can be done towards shortening the hours of toil for the great masses who
labour, will be of advantage not only to the working classes themselves but to the whole community. I cannot agree with the hon. member for Frontenac in his contention that men cannot produce such effective work by working shorter hours as they can by working excessive hours. The hon. gentleman carried his argument to an extreme when he said that if the reduction of the hours of labour were carried down to the last point it would mean that there would be no work done at all. Well, you can take the reverse of that argument and you can as well contend that if you extend the hours of labour beyond the endurance point, the workingman could not accomplish anything at all because of bodily fatigue. In these days when industrial processes are carried on by great natural powers, by electricity, by water, by steam, the intensity of labour has become tremendously heightened. And, in considering the question of shortening the hours of labour we must bear in mind not only the duration of labour but the intensity of labour as well. One hour's work on a machine that is going at high speed may take more out of a man thani six hours at an occupation where his energies are not taxed to the same strenuous extent. I think I may safely say that the whole history of labour legislation in respect to shortening the hours of labofur bears out the view that on the whole the shortening of the hours has been of immense benefit not only to the working people but to the industries themselves.
This, question of shortening the hours of labour is primarily for the consideration of the provincial legislatures which have within their jurisdiction the enactment of laws respecting the hours of labour, the factory laws, the laws respecting mines, and cognate subjects; but, the discussion of the subject in this parliament is bound to be reflected in future legislation by the provinces and the general expression of opinion in this chamber that the shortening of the hours of labour is a good thing in itself will, we may hope, bear fruit. It has been pointed out that this Bill purports to do one thing, when in fact it does another. That is entitled 'An Act respecting the hours of labour on public works,' but that it goes further and deals with every conceivable kind of contract in which the government of
Canada can be concerned. It is well that the House should understand that clearly before it pronounces on the measure. I believe myself that while the measure is intended by the hon. member (Mr. Verville) to relate only to public works, as a matter of fact it goes very much further than he intended. So faT as this question has a bearing upon ameliorating the ordinary everyday life of the working people I submit that we should
in this parliament, so far as we have the power-and we have certain powers in regard to contracts let by the government- we should do all that we can to further that end. I believe in the principle that the machine should be the slave of man and not man the slave of the machine; I believe that a man should have not merely an opportunity to live but that he should have an opportunity to live happily; and that he cannot have if he is oppressed by excessive hours of labour. We were told by the hon. member for Cumberland (Mr. Rhodes) that even if this measure had the effect which the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) said it had, he was prepared to vote for it. Now, the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) said that the measure was altogether impossible and therefore the position of the hon. member for Cumberland amounts to this, that he is prepared to vote for a measure which is altogether impossible. Well, Sir, I am not prepared to vote for any measure of that kind. I do not believe in trying to humbug the working people of this country.
I rise to a question of privilege. I said nothing which could by any stretch of imagination be considered as humbugging the labouring men- of this country, and I obieet to that language coming from the minister. I mean to stand by every word I said in this House with respect to this measure. What I meant was that if this measure has the effect of causing the eight hour'day to be introduced generally, then I am heartily in favour of it, because I believe in the eight hour day as a matter of principle.