March 2, 1933


The house resumed from Friday, February 24, consideration of the motion of the Minister of Labour that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of the whole on the following resolution: Resolved, that it is expedient to introduce a measure to continue in force the provisions of the Relief Act, 1932, until the 31st of March, 1934.


LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

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

TMr. Bradetle.]

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-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

spoken for forty minutes.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. A. A. HEAPS (North Winnipeg):

Mr. Speaker, the seriousness of the present unemployment situation was indicated last week when the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) gave to the house some figures concerning those affected by the conditions now prevailing. In answer to a question he stated that there were over 1,300,000 men, women and children at present in receipt of relief from the Dominion of Canada. In addition it was also pointed out that there were approximately 800,000 people out of work. This number represents about one-third of the total employable population of Canada. Almost one out of seven of this country's population is in receipt of relief. This is not taking into consideration the vast number who are not in receipt of public relief but who are being maintained by their friends, relatives or other means. In my opinion, the unemployment problem should be considered from two angles. First, we have the care of those who require immediate relief and, second, we have the problem of unemployment which must be faced not only for the immediate future but for the jrears to come.

In rising this afternoon, I do so more particularly to answer some criticisms which have been levelled at the group in this corner by the right hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King). While other opportunities of dealing with this unemployment question from our own point of view will no doubt present themselves, I intend to take advantage of the first opportunity to deal with some of the criticisms levelled at us by the leader of the Liberal party. The right hon. gentleman stated that as far as the Liberal party was concerned unemployment was one of the main problems which parliament has to face. He then went on to enunciate fourteen points by means of which the Liberal party was going to lead us out of the wilderness into the land of prosperity.

Of the fourteen points, seven might be classified as dealing with tariffs. The next five dealt with finance, such as the creation of a central bank, the establishment of an investment control 'board, the reduction of the burden of interest and taxation and the reduction of the cost of government. Another point deals with the abolition of section 98 of the criminal code and then we have the fourteenth point dealing with unemployment and unemployment insurance. Although I have mentioned this point last, it appeared first in the new platform of the Liberal party.

So far as tariffs as a means of relieving the unemployment situation are concerned, whilst I am in favour of a reduction in tariffs, whilst

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Heaps

I have always voted against the imposition of high tariffs, I must again reiterate that in my opinion tariffs are not the cause of unemployment either here or in other parts of the world. If tariffs really affected unemployment we would not have been faced with the conditions which followed subsequent to the debacle of 1929. In other parts of the world where low tariffs or practically free trade is in effect we find exaotly the same conditions prevailing as are now prevailing in the Dominion of Canada. If we are going to deal with the problem of unemployment we must get beyond tariffs and consider it in a more fundamental way.

I should like the leader of the opposition to have stated a little more fully just what he meant by a central bank. It was very difficult for me to follow his meaning because in one part of his speech he condemned public ownership and in another part he came out in favour of public ownership. When he refers to a central bank I am just wondering whether he means a central bank owned and controlled by the government or a central bank owned and controlled by the other banks in Canada. With a banking institution owned and controlled by the existing banks I am afraid we would be no better off and perhaps a little worse off than we are at the present time. An investment control board is of very little interest to the 800,000 unemployed and in dealing with the question of interest and taxation the leader of the opposition was not very explicit in stating how he was going to bring these things about. In criticizing the programs of those who sit in this comer of the house the right hon. gentleman always wants to know how things are going to be done and who is going to do them.

The right hon. gentleman nailed the flag of Gladstonian liberalism to the mast of the Liberal party of Canada, but I am just wondering whether the Liberal party of 1933 will care to fly the flag of Gladstonian liberalism of the last century. They may not be aware of the fact, but a great many things have happened during the past sixty or seventy years. No doubt liberalism has performed many important functions in history. It fought for liberty, for free speech and for freedom of assembly, all of which is to the credit of the Liberal party. But there are other factors in the life of this party which are not quite as creditable. During the development of the industrial life of Great Britain we find that such great leaders as Cobden and Bright fought many remedial measures brought forward to relieve the great masses of the people. I am just wondering whether that era of

[Mr. HeaDs.l

free competition and of the absolute liberty of the individual to be exploited to the very limit is to be considered as one of the ideals which the Liberal party is holding out to the people of Canada in the year 1933?

The leader of the opposition quoted extensively from Lord Morley'S Life of Gladstone, and he even went so far as to quote from the Earl of Oxford. When the right hon. gentleman spoke of the change of heart that was needed and coupled his remarks with the Earl of Oxford, I felt he was almost inclined to join the Oxford group. I should like to quote briefly from the history of liberalism, so far as Great Britain is concerned, and how it dealt with certain economic conditions. Perhaps I may be pardoned for making a brief quotation because it is very rarely that I quote the statements of anyone else. The following is from a book entitled " The Industrial Revolution of the Eighteenth Century in England" by Arnold Toynbee. I quote from a speech he made at Newcastle in 1882, as follows:

The new poor law was based upon a recognition of the principle that the poor had a right to relief from the state, a doctrine attacked by the radicals, but which others say has saved England from revolution; and our factory acts are also socialism. They interfere to protect the weak, and not only women and children but also men, regulating not only the sanitary conditions of factories but also the working hours.

Now, who really initiated these movements, and who opposed them? Robert Owen was the founder of cooperation, and let us be candid and confess that the radicals of that time derided it. The same was the fact as regards trades unions. The radicals had an exclusive belief in individual enterprise, and these movements they considered as infringements upon individual right. As an instance, Richard Cobden spoke very strongly against trades unions as likely to become tyrannous. These are his words: "Depend upon it, nothing can be got by fraternizing with trade unions."

I wonder if there is any difference in the liberalism of to-day? He continues:

"They are founded upon principles of brutal tyranny and monopoly. I would rather live under a Dey of Algiers than a trades committee! "

Doctor Arnold called them "gangs of conspirators"; but while some at home have thus condemned them as agents of revolution, foreign writers, like Lange and Brentano, have hailed them as averters of revolution.

I am pointing this out, so that when one is taking credit for past achievements, we may not forget that there is another side to the story, and that when the Liberal party here do follow liberal principles, they will be the best and not the worst.

The fifth clause in the fourteen points of the' leader of the opposition dealt with finding markets as a means of alleviating unemploy-

Relief Act, 1033-Mr. Heaps

ment. It is the easiest thing in the world to speak of finding markets as an outlet for our exportable surplus. But since the days of Gladstonian liberalism, a great change has come over the world. Every country in the world instead of being on an importing basis is practically on an exporting basis, and instead of encouraging importations, is creating trade barriers against other countries. So we find that we have reached more or less of a deadlock in world export trade, not so much on account of tariffs as on account of our ever-increasing productivity resulting from machine production and other methods of speeding up the industrial life of the community.

In order that we may get rid of our exportable surplus we must take into account not only the possibility of increasing our export trade, but the fact that we have in this country 800,000 people who are out of work, a vast potential consuming element in our community which has not at present the opportunity of consuming the goods which we now produce. As I have often before said in the house, if China, Japan, Germany, France or any other country in the world is unable to purchase the surplus commodities that we have in abundance, that is no excuse why our own .people should have to go without the essentials of life. There can be no real flow of commerce between nation and nation until we can establish the purchasing power of the great masses of our people.

May I deal with the reference made by the leader of the opposition to the reward of industry? In that connection he put industry into four categories: first, capital; second, labour; third, managerial ability, and, fourth, the community. I do not know whether I am putting them in exactly the order in which they were mentioned, but that is not important. There is a little confusion in the use of the terms: labour community and

managerial ability; they are all part of the same thing. Is labour not part of the community and is managerial ability not also part of it? But capital is in an entirely different category from either labour, managerial ability or the community, because capital extracts something from the community, which I believe it has not the right to do, especially in the manner in which it is doing it at the present time. We are told of course that the rewards should go to those four elements that are part and parcel of the industrial life of the community. In what proportion we have not been told, whether capital should have the major portion or labour or managerial ability or the community should have it. In our industrial life there are really only two elements: first, capital,

and second labour, and labour represents the major proportion of the community. But when the leader of the opposition propounds the theory that those four elements must be maintained and particularly that capital must be upheld in all its present sacredness, then I am bound to take issue with him, because, under our existing economic conditions, there is to-day no security for either the individual or the community. The man who works has no security in life and even the man who owns capital has no security with regard to it. While the leader of the opposition was speaking the other day, I interjected that even today capital is disappearing. We find at present not through any agitation carried on by any particular individual or group, in this house or outside, capital is rapidly disappearing. When we observe the drop in the value of shares and stocks and when we further see that large blocks of property of one kind or another have ceased almost to have an exchange value, we realize how rapidly capital is at this time disappearing.

Then we were told about the reward of service. We are told that we can reward service only by dangling some kind of bait in front of the individual. If he will perform a useful function or work a little harder, he is to have a reward in the way of a little more money for his services. I have dealt with that on more than one occasion in the house. It is the old story of climbing to the top of the ladder where one obtains the reward, forgetting there may be a few hundred others , suffering on the lower rungs. We were told in school the -story of Napoleon, how every private carried a filed marshal's baton in his knapsack. I wonder, if everybody became a field marshal, where would be the privates to do the fighting?

But perhaps one of the most remarkable parts of the address, a very able one, by the way, of the leader of the opposition, was in regard to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation taking advantage of the present unrest in this country. The right hon. gentleman is a student of history; I am sure he has read a great deal along that line and he must know as well as does any other hon. member that in times of unrest, and change, new movements come into being. The C.C.F. is no more responsible for present conditions in Canada 'than for the Chartist movement which came into being in Great Britain about a hundred years ago. A new movement has come into being in Canada not because the movement created the unrest, but because the unrest created the movement. It was conditions in Great Britain that created the Chartist movement and the Chartist move-

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Heaps

ment did not create the conditions. I can go back into British history and quote dozens and dozens of similar instances. It might be interesting if at this moment I referred to what the Chartists requested just about one hundred years ago in Great Britain. They requested: first, universal suffrage; second, equal electoral districts; third, vote by ballot; fourth, annual parliaments; fifth, no other qualification for member of parliament than choice of electors, and sixth, members of parliament to be paid for their services. A hundred years ago men were actually thrust into gaol for daring to demand or even request those conditions which I have just enumerated, and I presume fifty yeans from now the platform of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation will be quite as antiquated as that of the Chartist movement of ont? hundred years ago.

In the course of the remarks of the leader of the opposition in regard to the new liberalism in Canada, we were told that it stands for a more equal distribution of the wealth of the country. I am quite in accord with that sentiment.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

What about the constitution?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

The hon. member for Bow

River wants to know what about the constitution? I have not posed as a constitutional expert, but I presume we shall find ways and means, when the time arrives and people demand changes, of overcoming these constitutional difficulties.

But I should like to speak not of liberalism in .the abstract as enunciated by some hon. members, but of its actual practice in Canada, and to see what it did in 1927, 1928 and 1929, when it had an opportunity of bringing about a more equal distribution of wealth. In the years 1927 and 1928, when there were surpluses of revenue in Canada, what did hon. members to the right of me do? The first thing they did was to reduce the taxes of those who least required the reduction. In other words, in the years 1927, 1928 and 1929, when there was a large surplus revenue, and when we in this comer of the house along with other hon. members were requesting a minimum of S100 a month for able bodied men employed by the government, the income tax in Canada was reduced to a considerable extent. But when we asked for the minimum of $100 a month we were told that the government, could not possibly see its way clear to accept our suggestion. I should like to have seen that more equal distribution of wealth, about which we hear so much talk, brought about in the years 1927, 1928 and

1929, when there were surpluses in the dominion exchequer. I should like to know, further, how the Liberal party intends to bring a more equal distribution into being. I say, Mr. Speaker, that it cannot be done unless wealth is taken away from the people who have it. Unless we are prepared to take away part of the wealth which flo-ws. to the possession of 'the few in order to effect a more equal distribution, I do not see how it can possibly be done.

But the Liberal party still maintains that profits have to be made and dividends have to be paid in connection with all kinds of enteiprises, good and bad. If that is to be the case, I do not see how we will be able to bring about a better distribution of the wealth we produce. My right hon. friend was heartily in favour of cooperation; he believed i,t was a good thing. Yet he believes that private enterprises are worthy projects. I do not believe the two can go hand in hand; we have to accept either one or the other. As Lincoln said during the time of the Civil war, when there was an attempt to free the coloured population from chattel slavery, the United States could not exist half slave and half free. So at the present time we in Canada, or people in any other part of the world, cannot exist under a system half cooperative and half competitive. Ultimately we have to accept either one or the other.

I am in favour of cooperation, because I believe ultimately it will bring into being in Canada a cooperative commonwealth. There seems to be in the Liberal party a strong feeling in favour of unemployment insurance as one of the remedies to deal with unemployment. Mr. Speaker, nobody in this house has spoken more often than I have concerning unemployment insurance, and no hon. member has brought forward more resolutions dealing with this important matter. In 1926 the matter was dealt with; in 1927 I had a resolution on the order paper, again in 1928 and again in 1929. Even since the present government took office I have asked that a scheme of unemployment insurance be made part of the constitution of our dominion. And the Liberal party is again telling the people of Canada that they are in favour of an unemployment insurance plan.

Mr. Speaker, for the first time I put this claim before the house, although on other occasions and in other places, I have made similar statements, that at the present time within the confines of the existing capitalistic structure we cannot take care of our unemployed by a scheme of unemployment insurance. I believe it would be well for us to face the facts. An unemployment insurance scheme

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Heaps

to take care of 750,000 people out of work, on a basis of benefits for forty weeks in a year, at $7.50 a week, would cost $225,000,000 per year. While I wish to see the unemployed cared for, at this particular moment I have no desire to hold out any false hope that within the confines of the existing system we could possibly have a system of unemployment insurance which could take care of the three-quarters of a million people who are out of work at the present time.

I am anxious to see the beginning of a system of unemployment insurance; I am anxious to see one inaugurated. The question arises however, that if our present army of unemployed in Canada remains permanent, we must look beyond a scheme of unemployment insurance to take care of the situation. As I have said in this house on many previous occasions, one way effectively to deal with the unemployment problem is by effecting a more equal distribution of wealth produced, and in my view that distribution of wealth can be brought about in many ways. First of all I believe we ought to have a considerable reduction in the number of working hours. I believe there is sufficient labour obtainable in this country to maintain all its population at a fairly high standard of living, and if every able-bodied person were usefully employed all our requirements could be more than satisfied with, at the most, a thirty-hour week.

In order to solve our unemployment difficulties we must not be content with a dole of $7 or $8 a week. On the contrary we must provide work for the men out of employment, and to provide that work we must operate on a scientific basis. If we do it on a scientific basis, the only way we can act, so that we will not glut our market, is to provide each man with a five or six-hour day, and have all our population able to work, usefully and gainfully employed to satisfy the needs of our people. Then, secondly, there has to be some relation between what a man receives as a result of his labour and that which he produces. For, if to-day a man is working and receives only about twenty per cent of that which he produces, the balance, in one form of profits or another, goes somewhere else. Therefore we must have a reasonable balance between production and consumption. In order to have that we must have some form of regulated planning in the industrial life of the community which to-day we have not. To-day the industrial life of Canada is more or less stagnant. If we are to bring about the conditions I have outlined it means that to a much greater extent than it is now doing the state must regulate or control our industrial life.

It would appear that hon. members on both sides of the house are not so much afraid of such regulation, because within the past few days there has been introduced some legislation unique in its character. We are about to regulate one of the largest industries in the Dominion of Canada, representing an investment of about two billion dollars. In this instance we have the state stepping in and saying to the railways, " We will legislate in the interests of the railway situation of the Dominion of Canada." I am not for a moment stating that such legislation is of the right and proper kind-far be it from me to say so. What I am saying is, that parliament is stepping in and considering matters affecting one of the largest industrial establishments in Canada, and is saying, " You cannot run your business in a proper way; we have to step in in order to save your industry." If in the case of railways we can do that, is there any logical reason why the same action could not be taken with regard to any other portion of our industrial life?

I know that only a few days ago hon. members in this corner of the house were asked who was going to do the regulating, and who was going to run the industries. Of course I did not attach a great deal of importance to the question. I remember a somewhat similar question in 1930; we were asked who was going to the Imperial conference. To-day we are asked who would run the industrial life of the country, if those who advocate the policies of the group in this corner came into power. I would say that the very same men and women running the industries to-day would continue to run them, if we assumed control. The men would still go down in the mines and bring out the coal and other valuable mineral deposits, they would still be working on the farms, the cars would still run and the industrial life of the country 'would still go on, perhaps even better than at present, because the rewards for industry would be completely different. The men would be interested in industry, not only for what they put into it but also for what they got out of it as well. At present they get only a mere pittance. A man may have been working in a workshop or factory or mine for five or ten or twenty years, at the end what has he obtained? The results speak for themselves. At the present time we find some 800,000 men who have given valuable service to the community, walking the streets unable to find employment. And I can safely say that a fairly large percentage of those men will never be reabsorbed into industry or their former vocations. What are we going to do about it?

Reliej Act, 1933-Mr. Heaps

The answer I must say is not to be found in any of the fourteen points enunciated here on Monday last. It is not be found even in the policies of the government. We have to go much deeper to find a remedy for the existing conditions. Parliament has a very great responsibility. It is of no use for any hon. member to tell the people that they have got to undergo a change of heart before we can do anything. That is not much of a solution to offer to men and women out of work. That will not satisfy the 1,300,000 who to-day are on public relief. A change of heart is very good, is a fine sentiment, but I think in dealing with this question we have also to use our heads. We were sent to parliament to remedy these conditions. In 1930 the people sent the members back to this house because unemployment at that time was the most important question facing them. Since then it has greatly increased, I believe it is four times as serious to-day as it was in 1930. What are we doing about it? I observe the lack of interest shown by a great many hon. members, but when I think of the hundreds of thousands who to-day are looking to this parliament as a means of alleviating the prevailing conditions, I say we have a great responsibility resting upon us. We are here representing, each in our own way, our particular constituencies. To say that we can do nothing, that we have to wait until prosperity comes back is no way to deal with this great and very serious question. In my opinion there is only one body competent to deal with the unemployment problem in Canada in a comprehensive way, that is this Dominion parliament. I know that constitutional questions and difficulties arise, but I am satisfied that these difficulties can be overcome if there is the will to overcome them. As we overcame constitutional difficulties in regard to old age pensions in 1926 so we can overcome the constitutional difficulties in regard to unemployment.

If we are going to deal with this problem in a fundamental way there are two avenues of attack: first there has to be a radical reduction in hours of labour, we must get away from the eight hour day to a day of six or five hours; secondly a much larger share of the product of labour must go to those who toil. At present far too large a proportion of the wealth produced goes to those who neither toil nor spin, while the men and women who are performing useful service in the community have barely sufficient to eke out an ordinary existence. Therefore if I may in conclusion speak directly to the Minister of Labour on this question, while I appreciate the efforts the

government have made in dealing with direct relief, while I understand the difficulties they are bound to encounter in attempting to feed the vast numbers of people who to-day unfortunately are dependent on public relief, I would far rather see the government attempt to deal with the unemployment situation not only as a matter of alleviating immediate distress but from the point of view of getting rid of this canker in our midst so that we shall not have to come here another year and still have a million or a million and a half obtaining relief from the government. There is nothing more demoralizing to the individual, after a time, than for him to become the recipient of public relief. I hate to think that one out of seven of our population at present is unfortunately bound to accept such relief. If wre are going to maintain the moral fibre of our people and build up a strong manhood and womanhood, we have got to do away with this relief situation and put men and women to work in useful capacities so that they may become selfsupporting and useful citizens of this dominion.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. J. P. HOWDEN (St. Boniface):

Mr. Speaker, the debate on this resolution has pretty well resolved itself into a debate on unemployment. There is no topic before the people of this country or of the American continent to-day which is of such absorbing interest as that of unemployment, and the various measures adopted for its relief. The present government was returned to offee on the undertaking of its leader to cure unemployment and thereby remove the evil which requires these extensive relief measures. I have not risen on this occasion to criticize the government. I would merely point out certain conditions with respect to the community which has honoured me with its confidence. One might say in passing, however, that so far from unemployment having been relieved, the evil has increased in this country so that from having a little over 100,000 unemployed in 1930 we now have more than

1,000,000. At the last session it was my privilege to make a speech on unemployment, and since my ideas have not changed in the interim I have no desire to repeat the remarks I made on that occasion. I only say that the measures instituted by the government to relieve unemployment have failed. In the last federal campaign the present government accepted responsibility for the cure of unemployment. On accepting office they instituted a three way responsibility, with the provinces and the various municipalities, for the relief

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Howaen

of the unemployed. Whether or not the provinces and municipalities were consulted they viewed this measure with a good [DOT] deal of dismay, and have now fallen down in some instances. I believe that the western provinces are not able to carry the burden of relief, and certainly the municipalities are in a much poorer condition. For this reason I have risen to point out the conditions which obtain in the municipality from which I come, that is the municipality of St. Boniface. It is not a very big city, but it dates back in its origin to the same time as the city of Winnipeg. Early in the last century about 1817, I think, a priest who afterwards became Monseigneur Provencher arrived on the east side of the Red river opposite Fort Garry. The city of St. Boniface, which is the centre of the constituency of St. Boniface, dates from that time.

The people of. this little city are in rather a bad situation at this time. Recently I have had several communications from them, and on their part I desire to place these communications on Hansard so that certainly they will be before the government and the house. I have in my hand a letter from the mayor of St. Boniface, Mr. F. H. Dowse. He says:

Dear Doctor:

I have noit up to this time, noon, received any reply to my telegram to you of the 15th nor to that directed to the Minister of Finance on the same date, a copy of which I annex hereto for your information.

I may state that if something is not done in the course of a few days towards assisting us for relief purposes we shall have to call upon the Manitoba government for police protection, as the merchants cannot possibly continue to advance further relief.

Since wiring you and the Minister of Finance, it is only through the cooperation of some of the wholesalers who have agreed to supply some of the retailers for a few days longer that we have been able to carry on.

As stated in my telegram to the Hon. Mr. Rhodes, we have exhausted every avenue to avoid the trouble that will surely arise immediately merchants discontinue to supply goods. I understand that the same situation exists in Tranecona, where trouble is expected any time now, but you will nlo doubt agree with me that it will be much more serious and difficult of control if it started here, by reason of our close proximity to Winnipeg. I, therefore, cannot too strongly urge you and, through you, the authorities in Ottawa to take cognizance of the very serious situation which confronts us and which in no time might develop and become beyond control even with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Will you kindly, therefore, use your best endeavours to impress the authorities with the seriousness and urgency of our situation and wire result.

The telegram sent to the Minister of Finance reads as follows:

Hon. E. N. Rhodes,

Minister of Finance,

House of Commons,

Ottawa.

Following telegram from Hon. Mr. Gordon stating referred matter of relief loans to you have been in consultation with Banque Canadienne Nationale and provincial government. Require twenty-four thousand dollars over amounts due from Dominion government. Provincial government state necessary to pass enabling legislation and sell bonds before amount available. Bank will not advance funds unless Dominion government guarantee to pay same in case provincial government do not pay amount within two months. Only one merchant willing to supply goods for relief without cash payment and only for limited period. Have every reason to expect trouble unless relief can be continued. City council have done everything possible to postpone this. If Dominion government will give undertaking asked _ for by bank would ask you to advise me by wire and advise general manager of bank in Montreal.

F. H. Dowse,

Mayor of St. Boniface.

About the next day I received from Trans-cona, the only other community of any size in the constituency of St. Boniface, this telegram:

The unemployed of Transcona are desirous of bringing to your attention the deplorable conditions existing in Transcona for the unemployed scale of relief. Very inadequate clothing. No clothing for women, children, and very little for men. Quality very poor for sub-zero weather. Medical attention practically nil. Fuel poplar wood of very poor quality. Very unsuitable for winter use in Manitoba. We are drawing your attention to these conditions to bring before federal house if you deem it advisable.

I have been among these people within the last few months and to be honest I must say that I do not believe conditions are quite as bad as they are reported. I do believe, however, that they are far from good and that there is a great deal of suffering and destitution in those two localities as well as a great many others in the province of Manitoba. The point I want to make, however, and I think it is perfectly fair to state it in this way, it this: The Dominion government has assumed responsibility for the cure of unemployment. I think the Dominion government has made a very generous arrangement, but unfortunately it is not reaching the people; it is not getting home to them. I believe that the responsibility of this government is not fulfilled until it sees to it that these measures become fully effective. Steps should be taken to ascertain who is falling down on the job, and the matter should be taken in hand immediately. This situation should be

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Howden

cleared up so that relief measures may reach the people they are intended to help.

I need not labour that point at greater length. There has been some mention made of medical services, and some contradictory remarks have been advanced in this regard. I might say that the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario approved an order in council dated September 19, 1932, clause 9 of which reads:

The expression "direct relief" in this order in council means food, fuel, clothing including footwear, shelter, medical services and medical supplies.

That is to say, in their measures for relief the province of Ontario have included medical relief and medical supplies. Clause 11 of the order in council reads:

Payment for medical services shall not exceed one-half of the standard medical charges existing in the municipality or locality.

I mention this merely to show that the province of Ontario has included medical relief in its general relief measures.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

Is the hon. member aware that the province of Ontario assumes full responsibility for this medical attention? I understand that it pays the entire cost.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I was not aware of that

fact, but clause 8 of this order in council reads:

In territory where no municipal government exists the minister may provide for the payment by the province of fifty per cent of the expenditures to be made by the province for direct relief, in addition to fifty per cent thereof to be paid by the dominion.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Would the hon. member

permit me an interjection? What the hon. member for North Renfrew (Mr. Cotnam) says is quite correct with respect to Ontario and the other provinces. Undoubtedly the province of Ontario did pass the order in council just referred to, but the province asumes the total cost of medical relief, and the dominion as yet has not taken any steps.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I take it that the government of Ontario has assumed the entire burden of the relief measures in that province, because they have now seen fit to include medical relief among their other measures. However, I am not particularly concerned with what they have done in Ontario; I think it is very excellent action on their part. What I do rise to say is that the province of Manitoba has apparently not been able to go so far in its relief measures. May I here make this observation. For the last three sessions in this house there has been brought up a resolution with respect to medical relief

for the people. It was my privilege to initiate two of these resolutions, and I may tell you quite'frankly that on those occasions I was really thinking about the people who needed relief throughout the length and breadth of the country. It was then and still is my opinion that the people in the outlying districts have not been supplied with that medical attention to which they are entitled as citizens. I realized that so far as the cities were concerned the people in a good many instances were over-supplied with medical relief and that those who went to hospitals and what not received the best attention regularly. But there was another class, the middle class, who did not wish to accept ordinary ward hospital attention, charity if you like, and such people found the cost of medical service very heavy indeed, so much so that it was almost intolerable. That was the gist of my remarks on those former occasions.

To-day, however, I am not thinking quite so much about the people in the back districts or about the people generally; I am thinking about the medical men. I stand here and say without hesitation that a great many medical men in Manitoba-I cannot speak for the rest of Canada but I can for a great many of the medical men in that province- are in desperate straits. I say that without any hesitation at all. Perhaps I may be permitted to follow the course of events in Winnipeg and in that adjacent country with regard to this matter. In 1931 the medical men of Winnipeg, realizing that they were receiving very little in the way of fees and that times were getting quite bad, met and appointed a medical relief committee to consider this matter, the lack of fees and the smallness of revenue from their work. After a thorough discussion of the matter it was decided that they would not do anything for a few months or for a year or so and the matter was left in abeyance until 1932. In 1932, with the knowledge that the hon. the Minister of the Interior was going to be in Manitoba in December, the relief committee met and asked for permission to interview him. He gave them an audience on that occasion and they then presented their views.

There is nothing special about the claims they made. They pointed out that medical attendance had to be given; when a patient is sick and calls a medical man, that doctor is in honour and in duty bound to render attendance. May I just read one or two remarks in this connection:

Dr. Gunn pointed out that the province of Ontario had voluntarily brought forward a

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Roberge

scheme which had been accepted by the profession on a fee basis of fifty per cent of normal.

Dr. MacKenzie realized that health was the responsibility of the municipality, the city or the province, but the municipality having no money, the city having no money, and the provincial government having no money, to what authority were we to turn?

And so they were turning to the Dominion government. The minister on that occasion replied to them in these words:

The medical profession have taken a just pride in the noble traditions handed down by their profession from generation to generation, that the sick poor shall always be taken care of. At a time like this, when the country is in financial stress, when the country needs your help, is it too much to ask you gentlemen to each undertake three visits per day to the sick on relief, and would this not take care of the whole problem?

I may say that the Minister of the Interior had a very limited idea of the demands that are being made on medical men in that part of the country, if their work can be compared in the least to my own when I am at home, because I can assure you that I am called upon to make, not three relief calls a day but sometimes nearly twenty.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

Medical men are working

all day on relief.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

The hon. member has put it correctly. There are not many fees going these days, I can assure you of that. An hon. member near me says that they will have to put the physicians on direct relief. Well, I have no doubt at all that they will have to put a good many physicians on direct relief in Manitoba before very long, if some way is not found to come to their assistance in a reasonable and honourable manner.

I might further state that the profession met the premier of Manitoba in regard to this matter. I will not delay the house with the various aspects of the subject put forward; I will just recite what has to do with the premier of that province:

Mr. Bracken, having suggested he might divide bis government's surplus this year with the doctors, proceeded to compliment the speakers. He pointed out that the general policy followed in the last two or three years was that no one should make any profits from money spent by the government on relief. He instanced the central clothing depot. The state however should not expect any class of the community to contribute to its services. "Theoretically," he said, "you have a good case. Practically, we do not know where we get off at. The government is spending $2,000,000 per annum more than it is receiving, and if the province is to contribute the added million, the deficit is going to be $3,000,000. (The added million referred to is the difference in the amount of free work done by the profession in 1929 and the estimated figure for 1933.) This however does not absolve the government from 53719-167J

the responsibility of facing the problem. You are advocating state medicine. Have you a specific proposal?"

Dr. Moorhead answered that we had not, that we were endeavouring at this time to have the principle accepted, and, that accomplished. it should not be difficult to plan an acceptable scheme in detail.

The reason I bring this matter before the house at the present time is that these men have asked me to present it to the federal authorities because, as an hon. member to my right has said, if something is not done in the way of providing some reasonable compensation for the medical men of the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba, they will be upon direct relief before very long. It would seem that this government has made a generous enough arrangement with the provinces and the municipalities but I do not know whether it has taken into consideration the fact that the provinces and the municipalities are very limited in their ability and right to collect taxes. With a population gradually being absorbed into the ranks of the unemployed, the possible revenue for the municipalities and the provinces is disappearing very rapidly. Since this government in the last federal campaign accepted the entire responsibility for curing unemployment, I submit it is up to them to see that measures are initiated by which relief will be provided to these various citizens whom I have mentioned this afternoon.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Eusèbe Roberge

Liberal

Mr. EUSEBE ROBERGE (Megantic) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, I have already, in the past, protested against the principle of granting to the government a blank cheque to spend the amounts it pleased where it thought proper and the way it judged best. Experience has taught us that such funds were not distributed equitably among the various provinces and stall less among our people. I shall prove to the house how true is my contention.

On November 4, 1932, I had the following questions placed on the order paper:

What amount has the federal government disbursed as direct relief without the provinces or municipalities making any contribution, during the years 1930, 1931, 1932, in: (a)

Ontario; (b) Manitoba: (c) Saskatchewan;

(d) Alberta; (e) the Yukon Territory; (f) New Brunswick; (g) Nova Scotia; (h) Prince Edward Island; (i) Quebec?

Three days later, on November 7, 1932, I received the following reply from the Minister of Labour:

(a) Ontario-$600 in 1931; (b) Manitoba- nil; (c) Saskatchewan-$3,451,408.19, from September 24, 1931 to June 30, 1932 for sections affected by drought in Saskatchewan; (d) Alberta-nil; (e) Yukon Territory-nil; (f) New Brunswick-nil; (g) Nova Scotia-nil; (h) Prince Edward Island-nil; (i) Quebec-[DOT] nil.

Relief Act, 1033-Mr. Roberge

As you see, sir, the funds expended as direct assistance without the assistance given by the provinces and municipalities was distributed unfairly and in a very provoking way for the provinces which were neglected. Because the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) hails from the west, he has no right to give everything to Saskatchewan to the detriment of the others. I am not opposed to helping destitute families of Saskatchewan, providing that Quebec and the other provinces receive their quota.

But, sir, in all provinces there are, to-day, towns and villages where destitute people are as much in need of direct assistance as the people of Saskatchewan.

According to the figures which I have just given the house, the government has distributed in direct assistance throughout Canada the sum of 84,051,408.48. Out of this amount $3,451,408.10 was expended in Saskatchewan; $600 in Ontario and nothing in Quebec. Moreover, the government granted a bonus of 5 cents per bushel of wheat exported, this means that the western provinces received a bonus for their wheat of $12,720,121, in addition to $3,451,408.10 as direct assistance taking no account of the assistance given by the provinces and municipalities, namely a total of $16,171,529.10 which one western province received.

The way direct assistance was given to Saskatchewan was unfair and very provoking to Manitoba and Alberta which are neighbouring provinces and must have had, at times, as many unemployed and farmers whose crops also failed.

Was the government more generous to this province in order to reward the Prime Minister of Saskatchewan for having suppressed French in a number of schools or again because it waged an unrelenting war upon the Catholic institutions teaching French in that province. The government did not distribute a cent as direct assistance in Quebec without the province or municipalities supplying their quota, as I have described.

A special grant was requested for maple sugar. You may rest assured, sir, that our farmers in Quebec had as much right to a bonus for their sugar as the people in the west for their wheat.

The western farmers can sell their wheat at the same price as the United States farmers can sell theirs, while our farmers cannot market their maple sugar at the same price as the United States farmers, because there is an 8 cents duty per pound, this means that the maple sugar makers in the United States are selling, this year, their sugar thrice the price of thait of the Quebec sugar makers. This proves that had the government wished

to be fair towards Quebec, it would have granted the bonus requested just as a similar bonus was granted to the west for their wheat.

Mr. Speaker, I think the house was wrong in not adopting the resolution moved recently by the hon. member for Antigonish-Guys-borough (Mr. Duff), requesting a reciprocal treaty with the United States, as proves the following dispatch which appeared in the Soleil in Quebec, on February 28, 1933:

Tariff Against Canadian Maple Sugar and Syrup Products Appealed for in the House

Washington, Feb. 27 (A.P.).-An appeal for a higher tariff on maple syrup and sugar to protect Vermont farmers from competition from Canada has been made in the United States House by representative Gibson, Republican, V ermont.

The principal competition, Gibson said, comes from Canada where sugar is produced at a cost much lower than is possible in this country. Importation from Canada has increased from about 2,000,000 pounds in 1923 to over

10,000,000 pounds annually and this has resulted in driving many farmers out of sugar producing. Less than 60 per cent of our maple trees are now in use and many splendid orchards have been sacrificed to lumber. Gibson blamed tobacco growers for the difficulties of the maple sugar producers in his state.

Gibson said it cost $1.21 to produce a gallon of maple syrup in Vermont while a gallon produced in Canada, with the tariff added, can sell in the United States for 88 cents.

Through the Vermont Maple Co-operative Inc. financing by local banks and the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank, Gibson said, the Vermont producers had kept the business on a sound financial basis, but he urged a concerted effort by maple sugar producers to restore the duty on their product. Tobacco companies and other parties interested in lowering maple sugar rates can take care of themselves, he said. The farmers cannot. Help to these farmers means help to agricultural interests of over 20 states and to a crop value that ordinary runs into millions of dollars.

As you can see, sir, the United States farmers, at present, sell their maple sugar thrice the price of that of the Quebec farmers. I think it would have been a boon for our farming classes if ithe resolution of the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough had been adopted.

A bonus was also requested on butter, the answer was the same: No bonus for

butter, no bonus for maple sugar. Yet, the government is always ready to grant to the west, at the expense of the east, direct assistance, without the quota of the provinces or municipalities.

We also have a working class in Quebec which, at times, needs direct assistance.

May I mention a small town in my county, Black Lake, which according to the last

Relief Act, 1033-Mr. Pouliot

census, has still a population of 2,167 souls. In 1930, at the last election, Black Lake had a population of more than 3,000 people, out of that number 400 to 500 people worked in the mines. In July, 1930, during the campaign, the fine pledges of the Prime Minister were repeated there as well as elsewhere; that immediately after his party assumed power all workmen would be given work. What a disappointment for these honest people who, for the last 27 months have been without work.

All the mines in this beautiful little town have been closed since December, 1930. As it was the only industry there not a man has worked in the mines since that date.

Do you not think, sir, that these people had as much right to direct assistance, without the province or municipalities having to supply their quota, than the people in the west? The population of Black Lake had as much right to direct assistance as that of the west and this government did nothing for them. Moreover, the people of that town will be called upon to pay their quota of the money granted as direct assistance to the west, also their quota of taxes levied by the government. As Quebec, itself furnishes nearly one-third of our revenue, her quota for the direct help granted to Jhe west amounts to more than $5,000,000. That is how we are treated in Quebec by the government.

I have, sir, just described, as an instance, the conditions prevailing in a small town of my constituency; you can find almost similar cases in every constituency of Quebec and also throughout the other provinces.

On behalf of the constituents Whom I have the privilege of representing in the house, I request direct assistance, without the province or municipalities having to furnish their quota, not only for Black Lake but also for Thetford Mines. Since this government has assumed power work has decreased by 60 per cent and wages by 50 per cent. Consequently, the workmen draw about one-third the wages they earned under the Liberal regime.

As the dominion and provincial governments have encouraged the back to the land movement, in my county, a number of people have settled on new lands, but have not had any crop because they have not cleared sufficient land. If the western farmers have been granted direct assistance, without the help of the province or municipalities, because their crops have failed for a year or two, the new settlers have certainly as much right as them to direct assistance, because it takes three or four years to clear sufficient land to enable them to grow

any kind of crop. On their behalf, I therefore request the government to grant them direct assistance just as it was given to the West when their crops failed.

If direct assistance, without the quota of the province or municipalities is fair for one province, why is it not for all the other provinces, who have need of it? The Canadian people would appreciate such a policy.

Because of this injustice to my province and constituency I cannot support this measure,, unless the administration is entrusted to more competent men, who will solve the problem and be equally fair to all provinces.

This is, sir, the way the Megantic people have been dealt with, since the patronage was placed in the hands of J. T. Beaudoin, the defeated candidate at the last election, and, by the government since it has been in power.

We find in this morning's Ottawa Journal the following heading:

Canada's Need is Unity Says McGill Head, National Government is Favoured by : Sir Arthur Currie in Address

Such is the heading of a speech delivered-

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Translation)'

It is contrary to the rules to read newspapei articles.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN (Translation):

Anothei ruling!

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Eusèbe Roberge

Liberal

Mr. ROBERGE (Translation) :

When the first rumours of a National government spread in 1031,1 was against it, and, I am still against it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. JEAN FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, the question of relief for the unemployed is certainly one of the most important, if not the most important, that has been submitted to the house. I am pleased to have an opportunity to express the views of my constituents in connection with the work carried out, up to this date, to relieve the unemployed in this country. I regret that the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr Gordon) was unable to submit his measure earlier in the session, because it is important that a decision be arrived at as soon as possible to improve the lot of the unemployed.

What strikes me, sir, in the blank cheque act, is the smoke screen with which the government has surrounded itself to conceal the ways and means to end the crisis. When we inquire from the government-I do not wish to seem more disrespectful towards the hon. minister who is piloting this measure than to his colleagues in the cabinet-we are struck with the fact that often the members of the

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Pouliot

government neglect to answer our questions, because they are themselves unaware of the policy they will adopt the next day.

For the last three years, the government has had no satisfactory results to show as regards their policy to relieve the unemployed. Within the last three years, the number of unemployed, instead of decreasing, has greatly increased. Why? Because, when the Prime Minister stated, at the last election, while he was leader of the opposition, that he would put an end to unemployment, he did not take himself seriously, because he was then speaking not as an ordinary mortal being, but as the Anti-Christ; or, if you wish, he was indulging in child's talk, and the people, to-day, regret of having been such dupes as to believe in his pledges.

Just imagine him, sir, proclaiming to the people that he would end unemployment, when the number of unemployed was then about 100,000, while to-day it amounts to 1,300,000, including men, women and children! These figures only refer to those who are receiving the dole. In fact, the number of unemployed is, to-day, in Canada, at least 3,000,000, one third of our population, a fantastic and fabulous figure. Who would have cast his vote in favour of the Conservative party, had he known that the one who promised, in 1930, to put an end to unemployment, has perhaps been indirectly responsible for the enormous increase in the number of unemployed, in such a short while?

May I, sir, for a third, fourth and fifth time, repeat to the hon. Minister of Labour a very simple and humble suggestion, which I made to him each year, and even many times each year: that of classifying the unemployed.

How can we put an end to unemployment if we have no knowledege of the field of activities in which the unemployed of to-day previously worked? If we have no knowledge of the number of white shirt unemployed, of those who were railway men, farmers or employed in such and such an industry? As I then stated, it is important that such a classification be made not by federal or provincial government officials or even municipal employees, because each of these public bodies is taxed to relieve unemployment; it should be done by charitable societies such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. These societies, may at times, blunder, however, they are more impartial than many government employees, both federal and provincial, and even municipal employees.

I again sincerely request the Minister of Labour and beseech him to kindly have a *complete classification made, as soon as pos-

siblo, in order that we may know how many men, women and children there are in this fabulous number of 1,300,000, who depend at present on relief funds from the various governments. We must also know the number of unemployed who do not seek direct assistance from governments, but who are living on their small savings, which they were able to set aside during the years they were fortunate enough to work and earn their bread by the sweat of their brow.

The members would have to be furnished, each week during the session and every fortnight outside of session, with a complete statement of conditions prevailing. Such information is most important. Various interesting publications on agriculture and labour in general, are distributed in our midst, but they do not always contain enough precise and complete information. Members would have to be supplied, by the Labour department, at least every fortnight, with a complete and exact statement, indicating the number of unemployed in each class, whether they are married or not and the number of dependents. All this information is most important. At present, we are completely deprived of such information and were I to inquire from the minister of labour what the number of unemployed in white shirt is, he could no more answer this question this year than he did last year when I put that question to him and which was not impertinent but very pertinent. Were I to inquire from the hon. minister how many persons were employed, in previous years, as help on the farm and who, to-day, have no work, could he give me the information? W'ere I to inquire, for instance, how many carpenters, plumbers and others engaged in the building trade who are, to-day, without work, could he supply the information? Were I to inquire how many clerks there are without work, could he supply the information? How many store, brokers, office clerks have been let out since the crisis began? He would find it very hard to give such information.

Previous to broaching the subject in which I am particularly interested, may I refer, for a moment, to a speech recently delivered by the Prime Minister, at Toronto, in connection with the trans-Canada highway. The project is absurd! It is another absurd dream which one wishes to revive. In fact, what is the necessity for Canada to construct a highway through 700 or S00 miles of rock, where not a soul lives, and to have these poor unemployed work like convicts? It would probably be better to transfer our penitentiaries to those regions, and these convicts would have

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Pouliot

to work so hard in those remote parts that their ideas of revolting would be knocked out of them. Moreover, I think it absurd to waste the country's money in building this highway covering a stretch of 700 or 800 miles where no one would travel.

Before continuing my speech in French, I wish to say a few words in English to the minister of Labour as regards the classification of the unemployed which I have just advocated.

Before continuing my remarks in French, may I say a few words in English to the Minister of Labour in regard to the classification of the unemployed? Last year I asked him to classify the unemployed in order that the house might be well posted on the matter and might see to it that something was done for their relief. It is elementary that if we do not know their trade before they became unemployed, we cannot do anything for them. May I again insist upon that? For instance, in the first part of the session we were given figures relating to unemployment not of last year, but of the year before, as of June or July, 1931. Those figures were given to us in the fall of 1932, or more than a year later. Is it possible to do anything for the relief of the unemployed when no one knows what their trade was before they lost their positions?

I shall continue in English for the benefit of the Minister of Labojir who, I know, is sympathetically disposed, and I offer some very humble suggestions in order that he may take them into consideration and see to it, if he deems it wise, that something is done. Last fall I had the great honour to address an audience in the church of Riviere Bleue in my county. At that meeting were present His Lordship the Bishop of Rimouski and the Minister of Agriculture of the province of Quebec, Mr. Godbout. Agricultural policies were discussed by many speakers, one of the subjects being the back to the land movement. Is it back to the land? No, it is back to the paternal roof. Generally what happens is that many young men or women who have left the country to go to the city, return to the country in order to find shelter after they have lost their jobs in the city. Then the old father, the farmer, has to receive not only his children, but his daughters-in-law, his sons-in-law and his grandchildren. The country house is not large enough for all those people and, in addition, the father is not receiving a decent return for his farm products. This is why there is a very strong link between agriculture and unemployment; unemployment has an effect upon agriculture, because the agriculturist, the farmer, has to

support his relatives and friends who have lost work in the cities.

Last year very little was done by way of direct relief to assist nearly 800,000 unemployed. Each one was fed during one day, each one having three meals from the direct relief source, and one-half of them, or about

400,000, were lodged during one night. The government did not do much for them. What was done for them was done by private charity and most of the people who are at present unemployed are supported, not by this government nor by the provincial governments, but by their own relatives in the rural districts or in the towns. The only good result of the back to the land policy is that it makes country people understand that they are better off living in rural centres than swelling the numbers of unemployed in the cities. That is the only practical result which this policy has brought about. At the Riviere Bleue meeting, in the presence of His Lordship the Bishop of Rimouski and the Minister of Agriculture for the province of Quebec, I submitted the following arguments:

First of all, lots should be classified. In the province of Quebec there are forestry reserves and farm lands. At times, and often, the farm lands are on forestry reserves. Since confederation the right classification between farm lands and forestry reserves has not been observed. Not only that, but some lumber merchants had the right to cut timber from undivided lots in the townships. Then, after the timber was cut a division was made. However, no timber, or very little of it, was left for the farmers who were going to settle at those points. Therefore my first argument is that before anything further is done by way of colonization the townships should be divided as to farm lands and forestry reserves. That division should be made by experts and reliable people.

Secondly, after that classification is made there should be a classification of the would-be settlers. Is it possible to take a man who has been a blacksmith all his life and make a farmer, of him? Can we take a clerk from a store, or any other white-collar employee and make a successful farmer of him. Is it possible to do so? To be a farmer one must first have the natural inclination added to which there must be experience. Without that inclination and experience a farmer cannot be successful. Then the settlers receive a sum of money paid jointly by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. They spend that money, and no more is to be given to them. The idea behind the back to the land scheme is that people should

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Pouliot

remain on their lands, that those lands should become a national asset, and should be available for the settlers, their children and their grandchildren. Then, first of all after a classification of townships is made we must bring first class farmers with natural inclination and experience to work the farm lands.

What is necessary, besides that? You know, Mr. Chairman, because you represent a rural constituency. We know that roads are necessary. Is it fair to bring settlers to good lots when there are no decent roads leading to them? It is most absurd.

Mr. MoINTOSH: There are no railways

either.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Certainly there are no

railways; those settlers are miles and miles from railways. They are there in the middle of the forests and have no roads to travel on. The scarcity of highways leads to exploitation of the timber. As the settlers have no good summer roads they make only winter roads, and on those winter roads they do not carry vegetables or products of the land but carry timber. As the price of timber has fallen, their receipts are very small.

In this connection I should like to outline an incident. Last December I was travelling from Quebec to Montreal by way of the Canadian Pacific railway. At Three Rivers I left the train to walk on the station platform. I saw a large crowd congregated. The station was jammed with people. I asked the conductor if there had been any trouble, and his reply was that there were two cars of settlers going to Abitibi or Timiskaming. On that occasion I spoke with those people. They seemed to be a pleasant type of people. Among them were old gentlemen, ladies and children, and I noticed because of their small means or poverty they were dressed in summer clothes. Other than that they seemed to be healthy, a good class of people. My interest was aroused, and I asked them where they were going. Their reply was they were going to Abitibi. I asked concerning their guide, and they told me where to find him. Meeting the guide I asked to what point he was taking the people. His reply was that he was taking them to such and such a township. I asked him if each one had a lot, and his reply was in the affirmative. I said, "Are their camps on those lots?" He said, "No." I said, "Are there roads leading to those lots?" His reply was in the negative. I said. "Do you not realize it is a crime to take those people to the middle of the forest when there are no roads leading to their lots?" He replied, "I admit it is a great mistake, but we expect to have roads by next spring." I told him

in very plain French that in my view it was a shame-une honte-under the pretence of giving them lots, to take those poor people without work out to a wilderness where they would have no shelter except that afforded by an old shack. I was told afterwards that they were taken to what is called a hotel. Hon. members will probably realize the kind of hotel there would be in the middle of a forest.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Paul Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (St. Henri):

They were

taken to a hotel?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I am not joking; I am

serious, and I am convinced this is a very sad case. This hotel to which I have referred is only a shack where large numbers of men women and children, most of whom are no! related, must live together under crowded conditions which are extremely undesirable.

This morning I read a dispatch in a Montreal newspaper from someone who had come from that district telling about the camps. Sir, it is a shame. It is a shame that these people who go out as settlers, in good faith, who go to the wilderness and have to live crowded together in shacks cannot be sure of the fact that next spring there will be roads leading to their lots. I strongly protest. Although to-day, I am not giving to the house the name of the guide to whom I spoke, if within ten days time he does not resign I shall avail myself of another opportunity to give his name to the house, and tell more about him. I give this warning to whom it may concern. In this connection I have no personal motives, but I must say the people whom I met at the station made a very marked impression upon me. It was the first time I had met them, and I will probably never see them again but I think of them a great deal because they seemed to be good Canadians. For that reason I want them to be given proper protection by the authorities.

An investigation has been carried on by that great Quebec paper l'Action Catholique, under the title of "Faut-il ruraliser notre societe." That particular publication has given much attention to the settlement problem. But what I found most astounding was that at the end of last year there was a meeting of l'Union Catholique des Cultivateurs at which many matters were discussed. At the time however they did not pay any attention to the great problem of colonization. I acquainted the secretary with the fact of that omission. I was very much surprised that this important body, 1'Union Catholique des Cultivateurs, did not pay any attention at its last meeting to that great and important problem of colonization. Lately I read in Le Devoir an interesting article by the president,

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Pouliot

out it seems that no person has the courage to tell the truth, namely, that the back to the land scheme is a failure. It has failed because there has been no organization, no foresight and no forethought. The result is that herds of people are sent to colonization districts to live indiscriminately massed together in the wilderness with no help other than the $600 given by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Can we expect for one moment that the people will remain on their lands after the money is expended? They must live like animals; in my own county of Temiscouata some settlers during the past summer had to eat grass and roots. Those people must be looked after. We cannot cure the evil simply by changing the points to which the settlers are to be sent.

If I have spoken on this subject to-day it is because I feel my responsibility as a member of parliament, because these people are my fellow countrymen; I love them and I want them to be as happy as Canadians can be. We say the people should remain in the country, and that those who live in the rural districts are fortunate. That may be all very well for people who have no debts, but it does not apply to the farmer who has to pay an instalment of $500 for interest, but who receives only ten cents a pound for his butter and receives only a few cents per bushel for his potatoes. This is no joke; a real problem confronts us and it has to be settled. If my hon. friend the Minister of Labour wants suggestions I am ready to give him some; everyone on this side of the house is ready to offer suggestions. They probably will not all be good, perhaps mine are all wrong, but he needs suggestions. When the Prime Minister says: We rule this country; we have the power to govern; we wrill do this and we will do that, it is a shame. Why? Because he must take advantage of everything constructive that is said to him by anyone. I will do my duty here as a member of parliament, as anyone does, not more but as much. And if I speak this way to-day in the House of Commons of Canada it is because an evil has to be remedied, and at once. The country cannot be ruled by words. In fact I pay no attention to my language. Language is useful to convey ideas. I offer ideas. Sometimes they are verv poorly clothed

not in metaphorical language, not in the king's English; they are plain ideas. I would like them not even to be clothed, I would like them to be naked, but it is a question of something that has to be done, and I offer them in all earnestness and sincerity.

The back to the land scheme is so important that, as I said, the great Quebec paper l'Action Catholique for over a month has published articles from the leading men of church and state in the province of Quebec about the matter. If you read the letter from His Lordship the Bishop of Gaspe, you will find he says that there is no system in the matter of colonization. I have not his exact words, but that is the meaning of what he said. There have been other articles, a very excellent one from the pen of my hon. friend the member lor Bedechasse (Mr. Boulanger); the hon. member for Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion) wrote an article, and people in every class of life have done the same. There was an article from Monseigneur Lapointe, former Vicar General of Chicoutimi. This is the important problem, with all its variations and changes in the different provinces, that has to be carefully studied with cooperation from all. If someone does something wrong, whoever he may be, he must be set -back without any pity, without any consideration, without any compassion for the person, because one must act for the public interest anc the public good.

Now, sir, may I suggest something else' It is that certain people who are advising the government in the province of Quebec have no qualification at all to do so. They have no experience whatever in colonization and agriculture. They are paid by the Quebec government or by some government to do something and they are not at all qualified to continue their work. As I have told you, I have the admission of one of the guides of those excursions that men and women and children were sent to camps remote in the wilderness, with no roads leading to them. He published a letter himself, after I interviewed him, saying that roads were badly needed for settlers, which is the plain truth. I wonder if those people will have more roads now. Mark you, Mr. Speaker, I do not put the blame for this on the Quebec government any more than I do on the Minister of Labour.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
Permalink

March 2, 1933