The condition is not quite so extreme as it was a few months ago, the price of coal having been considerably ' reduced in the last few months. Let me give the House an illustration of how the high price of coal affects our industrial concerns. From the annual report of the Canada Cement company, I take this reference to the coal supply: [DOT]
For several months the company was unable to secure an adequate supply of coal to keep it running to the required capacity and earnings suffered severely. The president in his address said that the inability to obtain coal was greatly responsible for the smaller business. There was an increase of 540 per cent in coal cost over the year 1914.
That is a reliable ilustration of the increased expense which our industrial plants are subject to on account of the enhanced cost of coal. The higher freight rates and the exchange also add enormously to that cost. In the portion of western Ontario which I represent, three years ago the freight rate on a ton of coal was $2.90; to-day it is $5.29, plus exchange of $1.60, or practically $4 more than three years ago. This means for a town of 4,000 people an additional outlay of from $15,000 to $20,000 per year, most of which goes into the pockets of the United States coal operators and railways. But this is not the only difficulty which our people are experiencing at the present time; there is the additional difficulty in getting their coal at any cost. That there was a real scarcity there is no doubt, but this was partly owing to decreased production and increased demand, not at all to the diminution of our resources. It has been said that for every ten per cent increase in pay granted to the United States coal miners there was a lessening of production to the extent of ten per cent.
We in Ontario-and I am speaking now especially of Ontario-are entirely dependent upon the United States for our fuel, both for our domestic and our industrial needs. The scarcity affects the very foundation of our industrial life, and it seems to me essential that Canada should at once adopt a: policy which will make us independent of any foreign country for our fuel supply and encourage the development of our own coal resources. The scarcity of coal of recent years has been attributed to various causes, principally to labour unrest at the mines, with the tendency among the miners to reduce their output as their wages increased. The lack of cars and motive power on the railways is also a contributing cause. This scarcity of coal will undoubtedly continue for another year at least and will recur at intervals in the future. Let me read an extract from a recent number of the Coal Age, which is generally regarded as a reliable authority on the coal situation in the United States. It says:
The coal companies are figuratively sitting tight and tightening their belts. The spot market is quotable more because of the prices offered by shippers than by business closed. There seems to be a very general feeling- possibly founded on hope-that the buyer is going to stay out of the market until the last minute, and then when he does start to buy the rush will produce another sharp upswing in prices, and that next fall will witness another repetition of serious car shortage.
I believe that that opinion is shared very largely by the coal dealers of this country, based possibly on their experiences of last year, and possibly on their fears regarding next year's supply. What did we find last year? In July coal was being offered retail in western Ontario around $15, and $15.50 a ton; three or four months later it was selling at $22 a ton and almost impossible to be obtained at that price. We all know there was no legitimate reason whatsoever for that substantial increase. But what is supposed to have been the real cause of that sharp advance? It was the scarcity of coal in Canada, especially in Ontario, due to the causes which I have already given. Our people had to have coal, and our dealers felt that they had to pay whatever prices would secure them the coal. While the straight line coal companies were unable to supply our dealers, the independent coal companies, who control a very large percentage of the output in Pennsylvania and the other coal fields of the United States, took advantage of the demands from Ontario and possibly from other parts of Canada also, and would sell coal only when they secured the maximum price offered by any dealer who was urgently in need of coal.
Now, as I have said, that scarcity will return, with all the distressing incidents which we experienced in 1917 and 1918. We all remember those heatless days which were necessarily imposed upon us, when we had to submit to restrictions on the amount of fuel in certain industries, when we were permitted to have only a certain minimum of coal in our cellars, when we were obliged to use bituminous coal instead of anthracite, when we were forced to use wood whenever obtainable, and when even we had to practise the strictest economy in the consumption of gasolene. Those distressing days are sure to return, perhaps not next year or even the following year, but the conditions surrounding our fuel supply are certain to result sooner or later in a recurrence of the 1917 and 1918 inconveniences.
With such abundant resources, and with such urgent need, we should prepare to meet the issue unflinchingly and effectively. And now is the time to do it, not when we are looking for a supply of coal for our furnaces as the cold weather comes on. Now is the time to prepare, not for next winter merely, but for five years from now, when conditions will be more acute, and for ten years from now, when they will be still more acute than they are to-
day. In time of peace prepare for war. In time of plenty prepare for scarcity.
Let me make some further references to the situation in Ontario. One of the substitutes for coal is electric power, and to-day Ontario is using about 1,000,000 horse power of electric energy. It is estimated that each horse power takes the place of about ten tons of coal. Therefore if Ontario were not using that 1,000,000 horse power she would require an additional 10,000,000 tons of coal for her industries. Let us suppose that that was the situation. With the knowledge which we have to-day of transportation conditions on our railways and on the American railways, how could those railways possibly handle that additional
10.000. 000 tons? It would be an absolute impossibility. But some people may say, "Oh, well, we have 1,000,000 horse power of electric energy and we do not need to worry about that." No, we do not need to worry about that. But let us look ahead for another ten years when Canada will require at least 50,000,000 tons of coal instead of 33,000,000 tons as at present; how are we going to provide for that additional
16.000. 000 tons? To-day it requires about
1,000 locomotives and 23,000 freight cars to handle our coal supply, which is one-fifth of all the freight transported by our railways. To handle another 16,000,000 tons would necessitate an increased equipment of about fifty per cent. Are our railways prepared to do that within ten years? Is the Government prepared to increase on our national railways the equipment for coal hauling purposes to the extent of fifty per cent within the next ten years? That is the problem which we have before us if we are going to supply the people of Canada with their necessities in the fuel line fen years from now. Again I say it is time that the Canadian people and this Parliament representing the Canadian people should give serious thought to the problem of our fuel supply in the future.
I have shown that there is an abundance of coal in Canada. Now I come to speak particularly of the needs of Ontario and Quebec, within whose boundaries no coal exists that can be used for commercial purposes. These two provinces, however, are the largest consumers of coal, and sometimes we are almost forced to the belief that in this matter nature seems to have made a mistake. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New, Brunswick have no difficulty in obtaining their supply. Manitoba has had some difficulty; she has suffered in the past, but
with Alberta coal being shipped there in increasing quantities, it would seem that that province has solved its fuel problem.
I would point out that in 1920 Manitoba took 516,198 tons of Alberta bituminous coal, 200,000 tons more than in the previous year. As only 98,629 tons of Alberta coal were consumed in Manitoba in 1916, it is evident that the people of that province are giving the preference to Alberta coal. This is as it should be. The freight rate to Winnipeg on Alberta coal is $5 a ton, and no exchange, a much lower cost than that incurred by the Ontario people when they import American coal. As the Alberta mines have a capacity to produce 12,000,000 tons yearly and as they now produce only about 6,000,000 tons, there is no reason why Saskatchewan and Manitoba need worry about their fuel supply in the near future. The briquetting of Saskatchewan lignites offers another relief, and it may be that these briquettes will in time be commercially available as far east as the upper lakes of Ontario.
As I have said, Ontario and Quebec are the two provinces which are faced by a real fuel problem. Ontario is the one province of the Dominion entirely dependent on the United States supply. Quebec, by water transportation, was prior to the war able to secure Nova Scotia coal as far west as Montreal. While this traffic was arrested during the war, there are indications that it will be resumed and in this way even Quebec may be able to supply
4 p.m. herself with Canadian coal. Ontario alone seems at present completely isolated in respect of her fuel supply -the largest consumer and the most completely cut off from the coal-producing provinces. We consume in Ontario about forty per cent of all the coal used in Canada. The reasons for this are our large population, the gradual exhaustion of. our wood supply, and the extensive and numerous industrial plants in the province. I would like at this stage to read some extracts from a letter which I received from a very prominent retail coal merchant in western Ontario, a director of the Retail Coal Association, in which he outlines the difficulties more clearly than I can. I will read part of his letter. Speaking for the retail coal dealers, he says:
We have learned to our cost that we are entirely at the mercy of the United States wholesaler, both as to the quantity of coal which we can secure, and also as to the quality and price of the product shipped during times of great scarcity. This has been the universal experience of all the coal merchants throughout the country.
The price on Pennsylvania anthracite ranged all the way from $8 to $17 per ton at the mines according as the necessities of the coal merchants might compel him to pay, and if a merchant made a trip to the mines, he found others there ahead of him and the coal was in fact auctioned to the highest bidder.
Moreover, the middlemen were not the only offenders. These prices were actual mine prices from independent mine owners. Ordinary mine run bituminous coal also varied in price during the past season from $3.50 per ton to $12.75 (in extreme cases) per ton at the mines. It was an absolute holdup by the United States operators and the prices demanded from Canadian importers largely fixed the price for the United States citizens themselves, and as a result, a very serious effort was made to have shipments to Canada cut off altogether. You can readily see how absolutely helpless our people would be in such an emergency. This condition, it may be urged, is largely a case of manipulation on the part of the United States operators, but whether this is so or not, the results are exactly the same. Had this winter been a severe one, untold suffering would have undoubtedly followed, as shipments have not been nearly so heavy as in other years. During last fall and summer, when the situation continued so threatening, we endeavoured to get a price on Canadian coal from Alberta, but the best all-rail rate of freight which we could get was $20.50 per ton which, of course, precluded any private individual or company from taking any chances in connection with the undertaking.