March 2, 1933

LAB

Humphrey Mitchell

Labour

Mr. MITCHELL:

Yes.

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

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

He never should have gone up there.

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

Humphrey Mitchell

Labour

Mr. MITCHELL:

I quite agree.

Mr. LaVERGNE: What had his wife been?

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

Humphrey Mitchell

Labour

Mr. MITCHELL:

She was a human being. I should like to see the Deputy Speaker up in nothern Ontario cutting down trees; I wonder if he could stand the loneliness.

Mr. LaVERGNE: My ancestors have been there and so have I.

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

Humphrey Mitchell

Labour

Mr. MITCHELL:

I quote from the Hamilton Spectator of February 9, 1933. This article deals with a family who left northern Ontario and came back to the city; I believe they went north under one of the original schemes. The newspaper article contains these words:

The distressing situation arose from the fact that the family left the city for a few months last summer to try their hand at the land settlement scheme and when they returned this fall they found themselves not eligible for relief.

The article refers to another similar case as well. I know very well that the top six inches of the soil ahvays has been the escape when progress has been stayed in this and almost every other country, and in making these observations I do not want to belittle the efforts that have been made by the government in this direction. Even if they are able to settle only a thousand families on the land it will be at least some progress in the right direction.

The minister spoke of the disproportion of the urban and rural populations, and said the matter was debatable. I agree with him. In my opinion there has been a good deal of misinformation in connection with the drift from the farms to the city, and unsound views have been expressed with regard to it. The present modern city is a product of the machine age; boys and girls have been driven from the farms largely by the introduction of machinery on those farms. It is one of those things that is inescapable if the present drive towards increased mass production in agriculture and industry continues. There is also some logic to it. After all is said and done, the human stomach is not very elastic; there is some limit to the ability of a human being to consume the products of agriculture. In my opinion, however, there is no limit to the ability of the human being to consume the output of industry. This movement from the cities back to the farms is nothing new, but

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Mitchell

it is not a genuine back to the land movement. It is a movement that has come into being though the force of economic circumstances, and should good times return, in my judgment the drift the other way will be far greater. I question also the soundness of a policy that uses land as the scrap heap for industry.

The policy has two very obvious weaknesses: It will not lessen the tax burden and, more important still, I believe it will increase the surplus of farm commodities. I believe this policy is economically unsound. It has up against it science as expressed in mechanized farming. Take the case of wheat; we have the binder which has done away with a great deal of human labour, and recently the Rockefeller institute carried on experiments on farms in Montana by which the time necessary to produce a bushel of wheat was reduced from three hours by hand labour to three' minutes by the machine. The sooner the government makes up its mind that this is not a sound way to approach the problem the better it will be for the country and perhaps the quicker we may take steps to deal more adequately with unemployment.

I have analysed the work possibilities in the statement of the Minister of Labour. First we have the agricultural development which has found work for 1,691 heads of families. Then we have the Banff-Jasper highway in Alberta and British Columbia, which has resulted in 169,544 man days being worked. I should like to point out in that connection as well as in connection with the work being done with regard to landing fields that while perhaps under present conditions this is absolutely necessary I do not think it can be claimed that it is in any way a solution of the problem of unemployment. In the one case you have men working for twenty cents a day, while in the other they get only a few dollars a month. When these men leave the camps they will not have been able to save enough money to keep them from going on city relief almost as soon as they arrive home. Last week I had a communication from an organization in the city of Toronto, strongly objecting to some of these men in the camps who were taking away work from skilled mechanics. These men claim, and I think rightly, that these camps are operating in competition with free labour, and also that they have a tendency to lower the living standard of the district in which they are located.

Then the Department of Public Works, in cooperation with the provincial government, has completed a small work in connection with flood prevention on the Assiniboine river in Manitoba, to which the federal government

contributed $592. I figure that these men got $3 a day. That undertaking would have provided 1,697 days' work. Under the Department of National Defence no figures have been given as to provision of days' work. The small sum of $3,000 was expended through the Department of Agriculture, which made provision for some boats to assist in the better export of live cattle to Great Britain. I thought that possibly these men would be skilled workmen and would receive an average of $4 a day. Under that scheme 975 days' work was provided. The total days' -work provided under the schemes outlined by the minister was 172,216 days of eight hours a day. Expressed in weeks it would be 28,701 weeks on a basis of a six day week; so that you can see that all that was accomplished was steady employment for 28,701 weeks of one week for each man. When you figure out the steady employment which could be given individuals, you find that only 574 men could be employed during 50 weeks of the year, and that is the sole contribution of the Dominion government towards the relief of unemployment, as indicated by the minister in his speech the other evening.

Let me say this in conclusion. If you want the so-called capitalistic system to live you must try to get that system to function in such a way as to permit of the consumption of goods. That is a challenge which this government cannot ignore. I made this observation recently to some plant executives, and I think it is absolutely true with respect to the system: In the final analysis the existence of your system depends on the ability to provide men and women with work. It is a simple analysis, but in my judgment it is one that you cannot circumvent. Colonel Ayers of the Cleveland Trust Company recently made the statement that the only artificial stimulants that have been effective in the United States have been great wars. He might have added, new inventions. In my judgment the leadership will have to be taken over by the state. The state can do what neither individuals nor groups of individuals can do. It is master of its own affairs. It can expand or contract the supply of money. It is the creature of the men and women that constitute it and it reflects their point of view. It should also reflect their desires and their policies. It must therefore necessarily be responsible for their welfare.

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. G. G. COOTE (Macleod):

It is very much to be regretted that in the third year of office of the present government the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) is not able to tell us in his annual speech on the ques-

Relief Act, 1983-Mr. Coote

tion of unemployment that the government of which he is a member is taking definite steps to deal with the situation in a concrete way, namely, by creating employment in Canada. So far as I could gather from the speech made by the minister, the government has no intention of doing anything to create more employment for the people unless it is in connection with its scheme of putting more people on the land; and it is only by the greatest stretch of the imagination that I can call that a constructive proposal to create employment. It may create employment temporarily for those people, but the result I think will be very unfortunate for a great many of those who are being placed on the land. The majority of the farmers in Canada to-day are very hard put to it to make enough on their farms to provide for themselves and to pay taxes. That being the plight of the farmers already on the land, with equipment, what chance have these people who are being sent out now and placed on the land to take care of themselves with such equipment as will be purchased for them to the extent of $600? I think the move is doomed to failure. I hope the minister will be able to make it a success, but I do not see how it is possible.

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

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

But it is a success; it

is proving so now.

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

We have been told ever

since I came to this house that the soldier settlement scheme has been a success, but I cannot find very many returned soldiers who will admit that. The picture given to us by the minister was anything but a cheerful one. Last fall he told us that 800,000 people were in receipt of direct relief and in his speech the other day he said the number was 1,357,000. I would call the attention of the house to the fact that while the number in receipt of direct relief is increasing every month, the number of taxpayers in the municipalities is decreasing. How long can that process continue?

I consider, and I think it has been admitted in this house by the government themselves, that this is a national emergency, and a national emergency certainly demands national measures. In my opinion unemployment relief is, particularly at this time, a federal responsibility, from the very nature of the case, and in addition, because of the statements and promises made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) when he was carrying on his election campaign. All the economic policies in this country which determine whether men shall have employment or not are under the control of the federal

53719-168J

government-banking, finance, currency, the issuing of money; in fact, money in all its forms is under the control of the federal government: tariffs, immigration, railway

rates and all economic policies which determine how much employment there is going to be in Canada-these are all under federal control. The municipalities and provinces are, in the very nature of things, not responsible for unemployment, and I regret to say that in some cases they are not financially able to cope with it. Under the present policy by which the municipalities are required to take the initiative and pay one-third of the relief either directly or indirectly, many of our municipalities are practically bankrupt; they are unable to-day, to find the necessary finance to carry on this work. As a result of this, relief is in many instances inadequate; another result is very often that men are drifting about from one municipality to another. The municipalities in an endeavour to protect themselves against the influx of the unemployed from other parts of the country, are very stringent in the regulations they make. A man or his family

must have been in a municipality a

certain length of time before he becomes eligible for relief. The result is that there are many people, particularly single men, transient labourers, who are still drifting around from one municipality to another. They cannot get relief in many municipalities because they are told that they have not been there long enough. They have to exist in a sort of no man's land and they drift from one municipality to another, obtaining a few meals here and there by begging. I think this condition has grown out of the present policy.

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

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

To what part of Canada is the hon. member referring?

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I am referring to the province of Alberta, but I have been told that similar conditions exist in Ontario.

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

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Our official reports from

there are exactly the opposite.

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

When we get into committee I should like the minister to tell us whether any provision is being made to take care of the unemployed who have not been in any municipality for a certain specified time. I have heard of so many cases, both from transients and from the people who have fed them, that there must be many municipalities who will not take care of these men.

In order to show just how inadequate is the relief granted, I should like to quote the

2646 COMMONS

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Coote

scale of relief in force in some towns in Alberta. I secured these figures from the secretary of a municipality. The allowance for a man and wife is $12 per month, work being provided for five days per month at $2.40 per eight hour day. A man and his wife are supposed to live on $12 per month. For each dependent child an additional allowance of $2.40 per month is made, or one day's work. I should like hon. members to consider how they would feed a child on $2.40 per month. A few years ago we spent several weeks in this house discussing the question whether or not we should allow the children of Canada to have oleomargarine placed in front of them. I am quite satisfied that in many homes to-day the children do not have butter or even oleomargarine. I think hon. members will agree also that on an allowance of $2.40 per month, or eight cents per day, it would not be possible to provide milk for a child.

A slight additional allowance of $2.40 per month for each adult and $1.20 per month for each dependent child is provided for clothing, but work must be given in return. I do not object to the fact that work must be given in return for relief granted. I think these people should be provided with work, but I do not think a mother should be expected to clothe her child on $1.20 per month. It will mean that many of these children will not have proper clothing in which to attend school. In many cases these people have to provide themselves with some sort of house as well as with fuel and light. These and many other things they cannot get under such an inadequate scale of relief.

I think the trouble arises out of the financial position of the provinces and the municipalities-I speak more particularly of the western provinces, but the same conditions may exist in the east. The provinces and the municipalities find it almost impossible to borrow, and, as I said before, the number of taxpayers is growing smaller and smaller. I was told by a man who has made a study of these matters that during last summer in one western city ten new families were coming on the city for relief every day and a large percentage of those families had previously been taxpayers. I am led to believe that the condition existing in some parts of the east is not much betteT.

I have before me a bulletin published by the committee on social and economic research of the Montreal Presbytery of the United Church of Canada, which contains a number of extracts from Montreal newspapers. The first extract I should like to quote is from the

Montreal Star of January 26, reading as follows:

The urgent need for more accommodation for public patients was revealed when it was learned that upwards of 1,870 beds in public wards of seven of the biggest hospitals in Montreal are already filled and nearly every one of these institutions has a long waiting list.

The private wards in the Montreal general hospital are filled, but only fifty per cent of the beds in the private wards of the other hospitals are occupied.

"Due to hard times, the private wards are not very popular these days," one hospital official said. The result is overcrowding in the public wards.

The next extract is from the Montreal Star of January 26, "which reads:

Garbage Cans Searched for Family Food Man Tells Pitiful Story of Starving Children

Out of work for over two years, his wife and three small children piteously appealing to him for food, Albert Trottier, 5763 DesErables street, has been ransacking garbage cans in the residential sections of the city in a last desperate effort to provide the necessities of life for his starving family.

Emaciated and weak, his hollow cheeks mute witnesses of a semi-starving condition, Trottier told his pitiful story to Recorder Leblanc this morning after pleading guilty to a charge of foraging in garbage cans.

"I am going to let you go," Recorder Leblanc told Trottier. "Don't continue to take garbage. It is ,a very dangerous thing to do from a point of view of health."

The next is from the Montreal Gazette of February 1, and reads:

Eviction of Jobless Tenants

Montreal landlords are beginning eviction of jobless and rentless tenants. They are doing this to force upon the city administration their plight in being obliged to pay taxes, yet unable to secure from direct relief funds anything to bolster their falling, and in some cases, vanished rental revenues.

St. Edward ward witnessed four evictions Monday night; twenty more are in the offing, and some from night to night are threatened unless the public authorities make some arrangement whereby the landlord who shelters unemployed families shall receive a portion of direct relief allotments per family.

I want to protest again against the policy of the government in forcing municipalities to bear such a large share of the unemployment relief. I want to protest also against the policy of drifting and refusing to take some constructive action looking to bringing about the end of this terrible depression and the accompanying unemployment. We could create employment in Canada if we had the courage. I should like to quote one paragraph from the report of a committee of research experts appointed by President Hoover to study the significant contemporary social trends in the United 'States. It reads:

Unless there can be a more impressive integration of social skills and fusing of social

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Coote

purposes than is revealed by recent trends, there can be no assurance that these alternatives with their accomplishments of violent revolution, dark periods of serious repression of libertarian and democratic forms, the proscription and loss of many useful elements in the present productive system can be averted.

I know it is dangerous to use the word " revolution " in this house. I do not remember having used it before, but I know that hon. members who did use it were accused of being communists. I challenge any hon. member to accuse the gentleman whom I intend to quote of being a communist. I should like to quote the encyclical of Pope Pius XI with regard to civil power, as follows:

These ideas were not merely suggested, but stated in frank and open terms by our predecessor. We emphasize them with renewed insistence in this present encyclical; for unless serious attempts be made, with all energy and without delay to put them into practice, let nobody persuade himself that the peace and tranquility of human society can be effectively defended against the forces of revolution.

I wish I had time to quote more freely Tom this document, but at some future time 1 hope to have the opportunity of giving to the house more of the splendid things which Pope Pius has said in this encyclical.

I do not at present wish to deal at any great length with existing conditions except to suggest that we should take constructive steps to alleviate the distressed conditions from which we are suffering. The very worst feature of the present so-called depression is the condition of unemployment existing among our people, and their consequent poverty. There is one thing I would like this parliament to do-and I would like to see every parliament do it-and that is to abolish poverty. It is within the power of this House of Commons to abolish poverty, in the large sense, in Canada. We cannot deal with unemployment generally until we restore some purchasing power to agriculture. This is an agricultural country, and so long as the purchasing power of our agricultural population is as low as it is to-day, we are bound to have unemployment, falling revenues, increased expenditures for unemployment relief, and no government will be able to balance its budget. We cannot deal with the agricultural situation; we cannot restore its purchasing power without adopting a more sensible and sounder money policy than we have in Canada to-day. The present so-called "sound money" is bankrupting agriculture and ruining trade and commerce. Why under heaven anyone would call that sound money is more than I can understand; it is about as unsound as any money system could be. If we have the courage and wisdom to manage our money system so as to place our

currency on a proper level with sterling, this would put $200,000,000 more purchasing power into the hands of our agriculturists and others who are producing export commodities. That amount circulated throughout this country would put a large part of our population at work. I quite freely admit that it would not put them all at work. We have waited much too long to expect to deal with the whole question of unemployment in that way; conditions have become too bad and we must take other and perhaps more direct means if we are going to give our people, or even a considerable percentage of them, employment.

Perhaps at this time, before proceeding further, I might quote just one sentence from tlie remarks of Lord Melchett when he spoke in the House of Lords in support of a resolution which he moved. As the resolution is very short, I might be permitted to read it. This is the motion moved by him on December 15, 1932:

That, since under modern scientific conditions productive capacity is unlimited, and since the existence of indigence and unemployment throughout a large portion of the population demonstrates the fact that the present monetary system is obsolete and a hindrance to the efficient production and distribution of goods, in the opinion of this house the government should bring forward immediate proposals for the economic reforms necessary to enable the subjects of this realm to enjoy the benefits to which their present productive capacity entitles them.

A splendid resolution, one which perhaps should be presented to the house and the government asked to act on it. In support of it he said:

We have to realize that it is no good going on in an economic world with a financial system which is so hopeless, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted himself last night, that when America stops paying herself the whole system collapses. If you boil his speech down it comes to this, that the moment America stopped lending money to her debtors to repay her the whole system was in danger of, and did in fact, collapse. Why should we continue with these absurd follies? We have an infinite power of production in our hands. We have scientists with brains, and if we concentrated on almost any material problem in the world to-day it could probably be solved within ten or fifteen years. We have bountiful gifts at our disposal if we have only the courage to take them. We have to create a system which is capable of doing that.

We can deal with the problem in Canada just as easily as they can deal with it in Great Britain, perhaps more so, because we have no shortage of food. Canada is one of the greatest food producing countries in the world, and we have also immense natural re-

Reliej Act, 1933-Mr. Coote

sources such as Great Britain does not have within her own borders.

The time has come when we should adopt some definite measure to create employment for our people. Again I quote Lord Melchett, this time from memory. He said that discussing the question of unemployment without bringing in the question of currency was like discussing Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Undoubtedly the question of relief from unemployment is bound up with that of money, and, if you like, I shall go so far as to say that in Canada to-day it is bound up with the question of a moderate amount of inflation. Never in my life have I advocated anything like uncontrolled inflation; I want to make that very plain. I know the suggestion has been made in the house and out of it that some members in this corner advocate uncontrolled inflation. If any hon. member did advocate it, I never heard it and I have never done so myself. We may have uncontrolled inflation in the future, and if so, I do not want to be in any way blamed for it. I do want a certain degree of controlled inflation. Had we had a sensible money system, wo would not have had the deflation, but now that we have it, there is no way of dealing with the unemployment situation which does not include controlled inflation or reflation-call it what you will, but we want it under definite control and for a definite purpose, that of giving employment and putting purchasing power into the hands of the people so as to take the unemployed off the hands of the various governments and to restore the confidence of the Canadian people in their own institutions.

It seems to me that there is no more direct way of putting purchasing power where it is needed than by financing unemployment relief. Prom the point of view of economics there may not be very much difference whether this is done in the form of a dole or in the form of public works, but there is certainly a very great social difference and the community might very well enjoy some benefit from the labour of those whom it is financing. The usual objection to a program of construction of publio works is that somebody may make too much profit out of the material which must go into the creation of those works. May I say that my remarks on this particular point I have written out so that I may give them in the most concise manner possible. I do not think it is necessary to worry about such profits, if excess profits are properly restrained, and we can have that done through our system of taxation. Most of the money expended in the purchase of materials is paid out in wages

and enables contractors, manufacturers of construction machinery and other employers to maintain or to increase their staffs. Most of the public work that needs doing is in urban centres. Housing projects are needed to clean up slum areas such as may be found, for instance, in this city of Ottawa. More of them can be found in Toronto and even more in Montreal. Surely it would be a good idea to clean up slum areas and to build decent apartment houses or dwellings for the great mass of the people, the working class. In many cities we also need street widening, clinics, improvements to hospital facilities, and in fact, work of this type is plentiful. The ideal method of coping with this situation would be, first, to establish an unemployment relief commission to cooperate with the municipalities and to lay down a code of practice, as to the type of work which should be undertaken and, second, to appoint inspectors to supervise the purchasing of supplies and material, according to the policy of the commission. Substantial appropriations of money for these purposes could be secured by borrowings from a central bank. Of course we have not such a bank, but there is nothing to hinder its early establishment. Hon. members in this corner of the house have advocated such a bank for the last ten years. It is unfortunate it was not created in 1923, 1924, 1928 or even 1931. 'Had that been done we would now have the machinery through which to finance the work such as I have described.

The borrowings could be from a central bank, or even from the commercial banks, on treasury bills at low interest rates. Last fall $35,000,000 was secured in this way, and there is nothing to hinder our securing more money in the same way provided the money is paid out for useful work. Arrangements could be made with the municipalities for the repayment of these advances, such repayments to be spread over a term of, say, ten years, at a rate of interest which would cover the cost of administering these funds and paying for their collection. That would be a very low rate of interest compared with the rates municipalities are compelled to pay at the present time. It seems to me that the provinces might very well join the municipalities in arranging guarantees for expenditures of this nature. A certain amount of unemployment relief will be necessary, but as far as possible I think we should give work rather than direct relief. As I said in the house some time ago, we are crazy to .think we would bankrupt ourselves by putting unemployed people to work, because any unemployed man who is put to. work will

Relief Act, 1983-Mr. Coote

create real wealth. I believe it is Professor Soddy who says that the wealthiest nation is the nation which consumes most. In Canada we pride ourselves upon being a wealthy nation, and yet many of our people are living in poverty.

I have a suggestion to make to the Minister of Labour which I believe will meet with his private approval, whether or not he can get the cooperation of the cabinet. I have in mind a change in the Old Age Pensions Act which would extend pensions to men who have reached the age of sixty-five years. Let us retire some of those men who have worked faithfully to that time of their lives, and let some of the young men take their jobs.

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

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Has the hon. member

worked out how much such a change would increase the burden of debt?

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

No, I have not. I believe,

however, that to do as I propose would be economically sound.

There is one other suggestion I should like to make to the minister. I do not remember this being advanced in the house before, although it may have been. My proposal is that he should consider measures to assist the establishment of unemployed cooperatives. A great deal of this work has been done in the United States, I learn from the press that in the state of California more than 200,000 unemployed are obtaining the necessities of life by trading days' work for goods. In Seattle the unemployed have organized themselves so as to perform for one another such services as tailoring, shoemaking, baxbering and so on. They grow as much of their food as possible on vacant land, and exchange their labour on the farms for farm produce, the farmers being equally short of ready cash. A splendid account of the operation of this cooperative association in Seattle is given in Collier's magazine of a few months ago. I quote the following from Change:

One of the most ambitious and most successful of these self-help organizations -has been formed in the city of Minneapolis under the direction of Doctor George Mecklenburg of the Wesley Methodist Church. The local unemployed are listed according to occupation at the headquarters office, and forty-five crafts have been organized into craft guilds, through which work is distributed. Scrip money-which is of course of value for local circulation only-is the medium of payment. This novel organization is described in Zion's Herald:

"Just inside the door on the Grant street side we find the bank; for the organization has printed ita own money in denominations of five cents, ten cents, fifty cents, one dollar, five dollars and ten dollars. This scrip money

is hand-signed, copyrighted, and stamped with the seal of the Incorporated Organized Unemployed. Expert unemployed accountants set up the books. Everything is accounted for.

Next to the bank we find the large commissary store. Here come 1,500 people a day to make purchases with scrip. What can they buy? Anything that the members of the organization produce cooperatively. They can buy clothes, old or new; old shoes and some new shoes and rubbers; all kinds of vegetables grown in Minnesota, sugar, bread, flour, sauerkraut, and all kinds of canned fruits and vegetables.

Across the hall from the store we run on to the 'white-collar' restaurant. Here is a cafeteria with $7,900 worth of restaurant equipment which had been loaned to the organization. It was found that Minneapolis not only had idle men, but had idle store equipment, idle bakeries, idle shoe machinery, idle sewing-machines, idle trucks, idle everything. This movement has put idle men and idle things to work.

In the big room back of the restaurant we come to the barter and exchange department. Anyone may bring anything to this place and sell it for scrip. Furniture, beds, automobile tires, silverware, cooking utensils, stoves, shoes, clothes-anything of value is bought for scrip.

In the headquarters building a clothing factory has been set up where twenty-four rapid-power sewing machines make new clothes, mackinaws, overcoats, blazers, and all kinds of warm clothing. On a nearby street is a storehouse filled with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, squash, and other vegetables. All of this produce was bought by trading the work of the unemployed for surplus farm products.

Not the least important feature of this novel plan is the new spirit of hope and confidence that it has given to thousands of people who feel that they are taking part in a new experiment in cooperative living.

In one of the districts of New York city a somewhat similar scheme has been organized by a group of prominent economists, engineers, lawyers and industrial experts, known as the Emergency Exchange Association. As in Minneapolis, the basic idea is to bring into working relationship the idle machines, raw materials, dwellings and farms with the idle men and women who are anxious to work and who are desperately in need of the necessities that they could provide for one another if the facilities were given them. The New York Association also makes use of scrip money in order to make exchange of goods and services possible. The reason for using token money rather than the existing currency is to provide for the eventual expansion of the system beyond the elementary exchange of services, to include production plants and farms. Thus will be created a balanced economic system which a central exchange, to be established by the association, will finance and control, operating from raw materials to ultimate consumer by means of the scrip."

I know some members will not approve of the suggestion contained in this article, but it might interest some to know that in the monthly bulletin published by the Nationa.' tity bank, which, I believe, is the second largest bank in the city of New York, a study

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Coote

of a book recently written by Professor Graham on this very subject is suggested. The article is headed: Remedy for Unemployment, and I recommend it to some hon. members who have not read it.

Mr. MacMIiLLAN: Does the hon. member-

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I recommend it to the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. MacMillan), who is so ready-

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

Mr. MacMLLLAN@

Does the hon. member favour the banking system of the United States rather than our system?

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

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I am not discussing the banking system of the United States. I am suggesting to the minister, and to the hon. member for Saskatoon, that it would be a good idea to assist in the establishment of the unemployed in some of these cooperatives, so that they might take care of themselves, relieve the taxpayers, relieve the budget and, as the article I read stated, restore confidence to the unemployed themselves. I am also trying to tell him that even such a great institution as the National City bank of New York suggests in its monthly bulletin this book as one to study. The bulletin says regarding this suggestion :

The author's reasoning leads him in search of a plan whereby in times like the present, when wages and prices in terms of money are out of adjustment, resort may be had to the principle of banter, as a temporary expedient by which the otherwise unemployed may supply their own needs.

Surely that is a good suggestion.

His plan in brief is to have a National Emergency Corporation that would undertake production, presumably of goods for common consumption, by arrangements with owners of existing shop capacity and giving employment to workmen who would accept pay in "consumption certificates," which would represent proportionate shares in the product. The sole purpose would he to enable the unemployed to produce for themselves and each other during the period of derangement which has deprived them of regular jobs, and to thus mitigate the suffering of such periods.

The consumption certificates would he transferable, and presumably have a money value, hence a recipient might convert a portion of his earnings into cash. Presumably the money value of the wage would be less than the union wage, for avowedly it is an emergency plan to provide employment at times when union wages cannot be had for many would-be workers, hut there would be no profit on the labour.

Obviously the problem would be to get such a variety of production and services into the system as would enable it to supply at once employment and the essentials of life to the workers who joined it. Practically the scheme seems to contemplate a cooperative, auxiliary, system in connection with the existing system, but operating with a currency of its own.

I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, that the minister seriously consider setting up an unemployment relief commission, and ask that commission to make a study of this very plan. I think it might be adopted in many of the larger municipalities, and if it were properly handled and given a little financial assistance at the start, it could be carried on by men who are now unemployed. Plenty of men who have held good executive positions, now unemployed, would be very glad to lend their services for the successful completion of a project of this kind.

Before I sit down I want again to urge that action be taken to see that the transients who have not been in a municipality long enough to comply with the residence requirements get relief from some source. I would again urge that the federal government assume a larger share of the cost of relief,, so that our municipalities may be enabled to increase the scale of relief, in cases where it is now inadequate, to what would seem to be the amount necessary to sustain a decent standard of living for people who would work if they had an opportunity, but for whom there is no work available at present.

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEARMAN (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, in considering this subject of unemployment and unemployment relief, perhaps one of the most important questions that we have to deal with at this time, it is vital, I think, that we should avoid confusion of thought and confusion of speech. The subject is of course, extremely complex in a superficial way, that is there are innumerable aspects from which it may be considered, and there are innumerable minor factors in the situation. But essentially there are two main approaches: the one temporary, the other fundamental. So I think it is of great importance to remember that unemployment, although undoubtedly an extremely complex problem, is not in itself a primary problem. That is it is an effect rather than a cause; a symptom rather than a disease. Any physician, confronted with a patient suffering from acute pain whose temperature has risen to an alarming height, would at once take measures to alleviate the pain and reduce the fever; but if he were a wise physician he would go further, he would endeavour to diagnose the disorder from which the patient is suffering and which had brought about the symptoms, and would prescribe such treatment as might remove the disorder and restore the patient to health. It is quite conceivable that part of that treatment might be a complete change of diet, and perhaps a complete

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Speakman

change in the sufferer's occupation and mode of living.

As to the first or the more temporary aspect 'of the problem, there is after all little difference of opinion in this house. There is difference in degree, but in the main the house is conversant with the situation that exists, and I am not going to stress that to-night. We are conversant with the fact that in recent years unemployment has steadily increased, until to-day, although we do not know exactly how many there are, we do know that not far from three quarters of a million people are unemployed who ought to be working, and that those receiving relief from the state in one form or another have increased in number in the last few months from some 800,000 to over 1,300,000. I think we are all in accord as to this, that this condition cannot continue indefinitely without leading to ultimate disaster and bankruptcy. It is obvious that under the system as we have it, with our small population, we cannot carry indefinitely the burden of relief for such a large proportion of the population, nor can we stand the heavy drain upon our resources, the steady wastage which is implied, in seven or eight hundred thousand people living in idleness who ought to be wealthy producers. To that extent we are agreed.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, may I request that you ask these gentlemen-I emphasize the word "gentlemen"-to conduct their conversation in a lower tone or behind the curtains?

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

Armand Renaud La Vergne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. The

hon. gentleman cannot hear himself speak.

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

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

As I say, we are all in accord as to the nature and extent of the problem, and we are in agreement, that it is the responsibility of the state, of the people of the country, to provide for those who are in want the necessities of life which they are unable to earn by their own labour. Not only is that a matter of humanity; it is a matter of distinct responsibility, arid a matter of wisdom, particularly in respect of the children. Not only, sir, is there an appeal to those humane instincts found in the heart of every man and woman, that instinctive urge to protect and care for the young and the weak and the helpless of our race, that instinct which is in fact responsible for the preservation of the race; not only that, but I believe it is nothing short of criminal, it is high treason against the state-and that is looked upon as one of the worst of crimes-a crime against the future of this country and a menace to our civilization, if we allow these children who will be the future citizens, who must carry on our future

civilization and the business of this country, to enter upon their responsibilities with dwarfed or twisted bodies, physically incapable through malnutrition, or with minds undeveloped or misdeveloped, and with an outlook upon life distorted by suffering and lack of nourishment and wrong surroundings during their youthful and formative years. I look upon that, Mr. Speaker, as do we all, as being not only a tragedy, but a crime. On that point the only difference of opinion in any part of this house is as to what constitutes an adequate and decent standard of living. I doubt whether there is an hon. member in the house, including the minister, who believes that the amount provided at present will adequately care for any growing child.

Then we all agree, Mr. Speaker, that all other things being equal and if it were financially possible, it would be infinitely better both from the point of view of the morale of those concerned and as an investment for the state, to make provision for those requiring relief by way of work for which remuneration was given than to provide direct relief. There is a difference of opinion as to the work which might be done, and I am not going to dwell upon that because my colleague from Macleod (Mr. Coote), who immediately preceded me, gave very clearly and intelligently. I think, a long list of suggestions some of which might well be put in force. I am merely pointing out that we are all agreed on these questions and that the only factor which intervenes and the only reason direct relief is substituted for work is again the cost. Under the system as we have it that cost apparently is prohibitive.

1 have said that we are all agreed as to the duty of the state, but a question arises as to what particular agency of state should take the primary and chief responsibility. I believe in facing facts, and among those facts of course is our constitution and the division of authority and of responsibility therein outlined. After all, however, a constitution is not a fundamental but a superficial fact; it is a matter of convenience, and to my mind so long as the people of this country must carry [DOT] the burden and pay the cost it matters little through what agency that work is done so long as that agency is the most competent and effective for that purpose. I believe, and I think the belief is shared by many, that with the scope and magnitude of the present problem it has become more and more a national problem which must be dealt with by a centralized system of management. I do not say that provincial and municipal governments should not take their share of responsibility

2(552

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Speakman

and contribute their share towards the solution of the problem, but I do say that I am at one with the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) who stated that we should have some centralized body which would lay the plans and co-ordinate the work as between the federal, provincial and municipal governments and see that the work was done equally so that all would share alike. Further, so long as the causes of unemployment are wholly beyond the control of municipalities, and while the provinces have little to do with them; to the extent that any Canadian government is responsible, then it is federal responsibility and the federal government or the federal agency should assume the greater part of that burden. After all, they control immigration, which is one of the contributing factors; they control our trade and financial policies. The federal parliament controls almost every factor which, so far as it is national, enters into this problem of unemployment, and for that reason I again emphasize my belief that the federal government should not only direct the general work itself but should carry the greater part of the burden.

Last year I know the minister strained every nerve to cope with this problem, and may I say at once that I believe he has done all that a man in his position can do to overcome this situation. He has given his thought, his time, his efforts and his health, and among the other things he tried was the back to the land movement. I am not one of those who deprecate unduly all experiments-and this was an experiment. I do hold that no back to the land movement, on a large or a small scale, can go any distance in meeting this problem. It is of no use for us to deplore the fact that the tendency is for more and more people to dwell in our large centres, with fewer and fewer remaining in the country. That is something we cannot control; that is in line with the steady march forward of civilization, and to attempt to fight that flow or turn it aside would be as useless as was the gesture of old King Canute, who ordered back the rising sea. As the hon. member for Bast Hamilton (Mr. Mitchell) has said, almost every day sees some new industry developed, always one that is industrial in its character and carried on in some factory in some city. The percentage of people required to produce the food of the world is becoming smaller and smaller, inevitably and inexorably. Every scientific discovery and every mechanical improvement lessens the number of people required to produce food, but it does not increase the need for food or the size of men's stomachs. It drives men more and more to

(Mr. Speakman.l

the cities where the new industries are located and where every new invention not only has its birth but lives its life. I hardly need to mention the further fact that if a back to the land movement were carried on to such an extent as perceptibly to affect the problem of unemployment, it would simply increase the problem of agricultural distress which is now as great as the unemployment problem which is crushing this country.

I should like to pass for a little while now from the temporary phase of this question. I have said that in my opinion the minister and the government have been doing pretty well all they can do under the system as we have it. It comes to a question of dollars and cents, and again under the system as we have it those dollars and cents are limited. Perhaps the greatest indictment against the system as we have it is the fact that we have had in power, before 1930 and since 1930, able and sincere men who have done their best to meet the conditions that arose, and who shall say that they have failed so far as they could sucoeed? The fact that they have been unable to succeed; the fact that despite their utmost efforts unemployment and distress have increased and the number of people on relief has steadily grown and keeps on growing, is to my mind an indictment not of the members of the government but of a system which even those men, strong and capable though they may have been-and I will give them all the credit they may desire-have been unable to make it succeed.

I will turn to the question of causes, because after all the symptoms or the mere alleviation of suffering are not tlhe important things. The important thing for us to consider to-day is what has brought about imiemiployiment and what we cam do to remove those causes. There is a great deal more difference of opinion on this point; here the views of members of this house diverge to a far greater extent than they do in respect of the more temporary and superficial phases of the problem. During a debate which took place a short time ago upon another subject, to which by the rules of this house I am mot allowed1 to refer, a good deal was said as to systems old and new, and frequently we heard something said as to the folly, shall we say, of a small number of men in this comer of the house who held, according to others, that this system under which we live must be destroyed root and branch that it may serve as fertilizer for a new and better system. That at least was the inference I drew from what was said by some hon. members. Now, may I assure the house that in endeavouring to put forward some ideas held in this corner as to what might be done towards

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Speakmcin

meeting conditions which bring -about unemployment, I am not suggesting that we should tear down the building or uproot the tree, that we should make fertilizer out of all our cherished institutions. Not a.t all. I -aim suggesting merely this, that Where we find- an obvious weakness or an obvious flaw, that weakness should be eradicated and a newer and -batter piece of -machinery installed to function where the existing piece failed to function. And although I will suggest that if this process is -continued long enough, and each inadequate piece of machinery in turn is removed and replaced by -a more efficient piece of machinery, in the long run you may have an entirely new machine, -that is -a very different thing from destroying and then erecting. It is a matter of gradual evolution from the less satisfactory to the -more satisfactory, and- so w.e hope at some future time to -attain the perfect. That perfection will not come within my lifetime or yours, however.

What are the -chief causes of unemployment? Of -these I think, again, we have a very fair conception. There are two main causes, as I think we shall all -agree. One of these we describe as technological, and the other -is financial, and these two phases constitute the reason for almost all the u-nemipJ-oyment which we see in this -country and elsewhere

the technological and the financial causes. Let us take the technological first, because technology and technocrats and so on have become a popular subject of -conversation, or at least they were until a short time ago.

What is technological unemployment? It is simply the replacement of human labour by machinery; that is all, and there is no reason for me to emphasize or to offer illustrations of that great truth. Every one of us, whether living on the farm or in the city; whether conversant chiefly with urban or with rural life; whether our principal contacts have been with the farmer or with the mechanic in the cotton mills, in the shoe factories, in Oshawa or Windsor or Ford City, where they make automobiles, every one of us, I say, is conversant with that situation. We know that in every industry machinery improving year by year is gradually replacing human labour. That process, beginning as it did when steam power was first applied to production, has gone on with accelerating speed year by year until the present time. You will perhaps ask. as I have asked: If this is true, why have we had no unemployment on a large scale until within recent years, when this process has been going on so long? Again, I think, the answer is obvious. To counteract that process we have seen within our own lifetime

the emergence and development of new industries, beginning on a small scale, and producing luxuries almost unattainable except to the rich, until spreading and growing and rapidly developing, like the motor car, they have become at last necessities of life, demanded and if possible secured by every man in the community. The emergence into our industrial field of the motor car, the telephone, the gramophone, the radio, the flying machine and all these new industries, has meant that each in turn has been able to absorb the surplus labour thrown off from the basic industries. As they have replaced human labour with machinery, each new industry has in turn absorbed that discarded labour, thus putting off again and again the threatened time of widespread unemployment.

In 1914 the situation was growing acute and then the war broke out, and at once it took from the field of competitive labour 500,000 of our best men. This at once created an enormous artificial market for goods, and for a time the situation was saved from the point of view of employment. The war passed and again we were threatened with unemployment on a large scale, and again the sudden and widespread development of some of these machines of which I have spoken- the fact that numerous men were employed in building the very machines which eventually would displace them-was able to take up the slack. But remember that after each recurring era such as this we entered upon the next with a greatly increased load of debt, accumulating steadily, so that each time it woidd require a more powerful stimulant to take us forward another lap. There is the situation, and to-day apparently we have not in sight any new industry on a sufficiently wide scale to absorb the potential labour now idle.

I will not go into the estimates given time and again as to what the total production would be if we were to employ all our people. It has been estimated that a little over fifty per cent of the available working population, working eight hours a day, would to-day be able to supply all the needs of the country were we able to purchase all that was produced. Now, some people ask, why worry about technological unemployment? That is easily solved. Pass some law or statute and turn the eight hour day into a five hour, a four hour, a three hour, a two hour day; cut down the hours; divide and subdivide the work and you will have met the problem. Yes, if that were the end. But after all that is only the a. b, c of the matter, because behind that lies finance. The question will

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Speakman

be immediately asked: Yes; divide labour; shorten the hours; but will you pay these men the full eight hour day wage for four hours of work or will you halve the wages to meet the half time occupied? If the latter, then none will have enough to live on and you will have to relieve all. If the former, then you double the labour cost of the goods produced, and under the system as we have it, neither could capital obtain a profit nor could the farmer and those other producers who do not come under the wage scale be able to buy the goods produced and you would find yourself faced with the ultimate problem, that which I verily believe, as stated again and again from this corner, and emphasized and amply demonstrated by my friend from Macleod (Mr. Coote), is the stumbling block, the root cause, namely, finance or money. How will you get it? Then we come to that problem. I think it is fair to say that that is the main problem.

May I come back again to the medical metaphor, and I do so with hesitation because there are so many medical men in the house. But I suggest this to you because I know something of medicine, not as a practitioner but as a victim. One of the practices of the skilled physician in dealing with a patient who has some obscure disorder is to apply the logical method of elimination in making his diagnosis. He will test organ after organ to see whether this or that organ is sound and functioning properly, and gradually he eliminates one after another from the field of conjecture until he comes finally to the organ that is giving the trouble. I believe that is an apt metaphor in this connection.

Now, no one will deny that our public patient is suffering from some obscure ailment. The symptoms are obvious, for we are all suffering from it; 'the temperature is high, the pain is acute, and we are analyzing organ after organ.

Look at agriculture. Agriculture is absolutely sound as a producing body. It can produce goods in ample quantity and of excellent quality. In other words, it functions one hundred per cent. I do not say that it cannot be improved; all methods can be improved but I think it is efficient in performing its proper functions, which is to produce agricultural goods.

We come now to industry. You can examine factory after factory and you will find almost without exception that it is functioning efficiently and doing its work as it should be done, producing as a productive organization should. As you pass from one to the other I venture to say that in these days of keen competition you would find very few

that were not functioning to their height of efficiency in producing the goods for which they were created.

Then we come to distribution. When we examine our mechanical means of distribution such as our railways, our steamships, our trucks, our buses or other means of transportation, we find just as an efficient a system of transportation as any man could wish. Again, improvements are possible in economy and in efficiency but I venture to say that there is not an article produced in any part of this country that cannot be transported with speed, safety and celerity to any market on the globe.

Next we come to communication. Miracles are being performed with our systems of communication. In my home in Red Deer I am nearer to Washington, London, Peking, Moscow or, if you like, Ottawa, than I was to Calgary when I went west forty-three years ago. The moment a man speaks I am able to hear him over the radio. The Pope speaks in the ancient Vatican and followers by the millions throughout the world bow their heads when they hear his voice. The Prince of Wales launches a ship and the splash as it enters the Clyde resounds throughout the empire. The Prime Minister of Canada speaks and the listening multitudes raise their hats and shout "hurrah."

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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March 2, 1933