Mr. J. A. BRADETTE (North Timiskam-ing):
Before I proceed with my remarks, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the hon. members on this side of the house I should like to extend to the hon. member for South Winnipeg (Mr. Rogers) very many happy returns on his birthday.
When the debate adjourned last Friday I stated that so long as this government was spending public money on relief matters this was the time and place to bring to the notice of the government some of the results of the administration of these relief measures. I notice that my confrere, the provincial member for Cochrane North, Mr. A. V. Waters, put forward in the Ontario legislature two days ago some of the anomalies which I mentioned in this house last Friday evening. One of the matters I mentioned was the payment for medical services in our section of the country. I said at the time that the government responsible, whether provincial or federal, deserved to be complimented for the action they took, but I objected to the fact that medical men have been limited to the sum of $100 a month in all municipalities and towns. I am absolutely opposed to this limitation for the very good reason that in our section of the country at least the mining and industrial centres are surrounded by unorganized rural districts where it is impossible to maintain medical men. Take the doctor who practises at Cochrane or at Kapuskasing; he must look after the people in several adjoining localities, and when he is limited to the sum of $100 a month for medical services and any medicines he may supply it is absolutely impossible for the rural population to get the service they require.
I am bringing this matter particularly to the attention of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) because he is well acquainted with the situation existing in northern Ontario, and I hope this anomaly will be remedied at once. It has been said in this house that the primary duty of any government is to look after the welfare and health of the people, and in times such as these I think we would be well advised to devote a good deal of
Relief Act, 1983-Mr. Bradette
money to public health work. This applies particularly to unorganized districts in the north.
Last Friday evening I was speaking of the back to the land movement, and I might say once more that I am absolutely in favour of any movement that will help bring back to the land those people who wish to engage in agriculture.
In the fall of 1930 a back to the land movement originated from the Department of Labour. At that time I offered certain criticism, not of the movement itself but of the fact that the government was priding itself on having placed tens of thousands of people on the land without the expenditure of any moneys. I maintained then, as I maintain now, that it was absolutely impossible to secure any measure of success, if the federal and provincial governments contemplated bringing people from the urban centres back to the land, without spending money. I may say to the minister and the house that there is not an individual to be found anywhere in Canada who would criticize such expenditures.
I fully agree with the minister in the statement that the movement is helping to place people once again on the land. As he has said, for the last fifteen or twenty years people from the rural centres have been finding their way to the cities, and that movement was quite noticeable until two or three years ago. Now however, owing to the economic and financial situation, there has been a stop to that process and we see the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of people, who originally were on farms and found their way to the larger centres, now anxious to return to farm life. The situation to-day is the reverse of what it has been during the last twenty years, and more and more people are expressing a wish to return from the urban to the rural centres.
That situation did not come about overnight; it has been the result of extreme mechanization and overproduction, and to-day in the urban centres skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour find it impossible to obtain remunerative employment such as was available a few years ago. The result is that those people who to-day in the large centres of population are unable to obtain the means of subsistence and are being forced to accept public charity are looking over the walls of the city limits, ready to return to the land. I believe this government has taken a step in the right direction in accelerating that movement, and that brings us to the root of the present economic situation. If it is possible for the government to discover what is wrong with agriculture the problems of the present
depression will be solved at once, and that applies not only to this country but to the world at large. The moment we make it possible for the primary producers and the primary industry of this country to receive a reasonable return for their efforts we shall reach the root of the present problem.
If there is an anomaly in the industrial life of the world to-day, there is also an anomaly in agriculture, and we have the sad spectacle of the primary producer being in the same position as the unskilled and semi-skilled labourer in the larger centres. This condition of things is going to demand of the government, whether provincial or federal, considerable study, as well as the expenditure of large sums of money. I have no time to enter into a history of the economic life of the country during the last twenty years, but I think we all fully appreciate the fact that we have applied artificial aids to industry, in the way of higher tariffs, exemption from certain forms of taxation, more and more use of machinery and in other directions; and while we have been building up our factories and our industrial centres we have left agriculture to take care of itself. I think the government takes a step in the right direction when it goes into the urban centres and endeavours to encourage the surplus population there to find its way back to the land. But if we have applied artificial assistance to industry, to keep industry going, I contend that we should at least extend some governmental assistance to maintain our population on the land.
I think -that before the session is over, in dealing with this all-important question of unemployment, we shall find that the placing of a certain proportion of the urban population permanently on the land will have solved to a large extent the unemployment problem in the larger centres if the people can remain in that occupation. I am not going to single out individual cases in the back to the land movement and hold them up as examples of failure. The movement as a whole has been I believe a success, and the class of people chosen by the government, whether provncial or federal, is, I think, the proper class. There are in the urban centres tens of thousands of people who were brought up on farms, who know a good deal about agriculture, and who now find themselves without employment, and these people are ready to make the necessary sacrifice to go back to the land. I say sacrifice because in a good many instances the return to the land does involve sacrifice; these people are suddenly uprooted from their environment and transplanted to newer sections of the country where they do not have the facilities to be
Reliej Act, 1983-Mr. Heaps
found in the older and more settled parts -such as good roads, places of amusement, bright lights and so on. I repeat, we have in Canada to-day tens of thousands of people with a knowledge of agriculture who are ready to make the necessary sacrifice to start life anew in the rural centres. I suggest however that the minister must follow up more closely the fortunes of the men who are placed on the land. In northern Ontario we are doing a wonderful work and the government has tried to place the people as closely together as possible. That has been done in the Algorna, Cochrane and Kapuskasing districts. I do not think the population now being settled should be spread over any very considerable territory; they should be concentrated so that they may cultivate the community spirit. If you isolate them in the new sections, where a man has no friends near him, the people are likely to lose the pioneering spirit. I would urge on the government that this principle be given proper recognition. I have in mind new centres in the Hearst section of people coming from the Waterloo and Kitchener district. Here the people seem to be satisfied with their lot because they have all come from the same locality and they have now a proper community spirit.
I would ask the government to inaugurate the movement early in the spring, making it possible for the people to go on the land not later than the end of August. It is utterly unfair for men taken from industrial centres to be placed on the land in the fall or winter, because they are bound to be discouraged. So far as northern Ontario and the western prairies are concerned, most of the available land lies in the northern section of the country, where the climatic conditions are far more severe than in the sections from which the new population is coming. I know that the government realizes the importance of this, and I trust that the people will be placed not later than the end of .August. The best time of year to place prospective settlers on the land is during the months of March, April and May, because in those months they can remodel their buildings and put some land under cultivation, and they can also have a garden; in a word, if they are placed during those months, they can be to a large extent self-supporting. If they are put on the land late in the year however they are almost bound to lose heart, because, in northern Ontario at any rate, there is no use putting grain in the sod expecting it to mature unless it is planted before the middle of June; so that-
Subtopic: CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932