Will the minister give a short statement as to how many of these officers he has now, and what information they are gathering? Is the information obtained by inquiry of the retail or wholesale dealers as to what prices they are asking for the various commodities?
This information is obtained in different ways. We have, as my hon. friend probably knows, an officer in every town and city in Canada having a population of ten thousand or over. This officer also acts as a correspondent of the Labour Gazette and reports as to prices generally once a month, although -he has been required to report twice a month. We
get reports from these officers, also reports from the markets, and from wholesale and retail dealers.
With the creation of the new Food Control Board, will operations as respects the prices of commodities in Canada ibe continued under the Department of Labour, or will they be tranferred to the new Board?
My hon. friend (Mr. Crothers) stated that the statistics taken in the department have reference only to the current prices. Reading the report of his department issued in 1917, but covering the year 1916, I read on the first page that we have made progress in that line. I forget the name of the gentleman who signs the report; I think it is Mr. Acland, if I am not mistaken, but what struck me is this: He says ,in effect, that for some years, and as far back as 1907, they have been trying to follow the changes in the prices, but that for 1915 and 1916-the period covered by the report issued last year-they have also statistics as to production in the various parts of the country. Now, I want to ascertain from the minister if those statistics are
Obtained from the same source on which are based the retail and wholesale prices of commodities, or from another source altogether? In the city of Three Rivers the gentleman who reports to the Labour Department-and I have occasion to meet him sometimes-.makes inquiries more as ' to labour conditions than he does with respect to prices of commodities which are considered the necessaries of life. I should think that this man, living in the city of Three Rivers, and inquiring mostly from mills, manufacturing establishments and shipyards, would not be the proper authority to afford information to the minister as to the production of foodstuffs in and around Three Rivers as far as the necessaries of life are concerned.
I have not before me the report to which my hon .friend refers, and which is prepared by the Deputy Minister of Labour, but in addition to the sources that I mentioned to him a moment ago, we issue questionnaires monthly, I think to wholesale dealers and leading retail dealers, concerning food, clothing and fuel. We get monthly reports from these people, in fact they set forth a great many items as to the' quantities they purchase and the prices that were paid for them, the quantities they have sold and the prices at which they were sold. That is a very important source of information that we have in addition to the one I mentioned to my hon. friend a moment ago.
With reference to production, I might tell my hon. friend that if I had sold 100 tons of coal, or 100 bushels of potatoes, that would not give him any idea or any information as to the production of coal or potatoes in that particular district. I understood from the report that the figures as to production were being ascertained in the department now. I want to know on what information they were obtained.
I rather think the hon. member for Three Rivers is wrong in his interpretation of the words used by the deputy minister in that report. We do not get any report froim. the farmers as to the quantity produced, so that if he used the word "production," he did not use it in the sense of 'the quantity produced by the farmers.