March 26, 1934

CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

If the Minister of Labour at Ottawa had wished to assist the province of New Brunswick and the government candidate in that campaign, would it not have been a good policy to go ahead with the work which the hon. gentleman says took place as a result of the election campaign?

Mr. POUtLIOT: People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member who has the floor gave way to the hon. member who interrupted him, and therefore I shall ask him to proceed.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud

Liberal

Mr. MICIIAUD:

In order further to

enlighten the hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Price), let me tell him that last year not a single part of that pile of rocks was used to carry on work under the unemployment relief scheme to which the Minister of Labour has contributed some forty or fifty per eent.^ I did not mention this by way of complaint, because I have no reason to complain. I brought it to the attention of the minister because he told the house last week that in respect to certain projects carried out in Quebec he had a definite program, which I think is the only way in which such projects can be carried out. I thought that principle applied to all the provinces, but to my astonishment I found that it did not apply to New Brunswick, and the people in that province who were out of employment last year complained that they were deprived of the unemployment relief to which they were entitled. This has led to certain abuses and may lead to greater abuses if the policy regarding cooperation with the provinces is not strictly adhered to.

For example, it is a matter of public knowledge that the government of New Brunswick intends to carry on an extensive program of permanent paving of highways. We have 1,300 miles of main highway, and it is the intention of the government to embark on a program of permanent paving provided the Dominion government contributes fifty per cent of the cost under the Unemployment Relief Act. It is not for me to say here whether or not, that is a good policy on the part of the province of New Brunswick, but it is our duty to give our opinion as ^ to whether money contributed by the Dominion government should be spent on such a program. I submit that the money so spent will not end unemployment, will not solve permanently the unemployment problem in that province. It would be a palliative; it would help temporarily, but the problem cannot be solved in that way. The unem-

ployment problem in New Brunswick will remain unless some definite policy is adopted to reestablish in the economic life of the country those who are now unemployed.

I submit that our unemployment is due largely to the fact that certain secondary industries had to close down and cannot be profitably reestablished, and thus a great number of men have been thrown out of work. It is also due to the reorganization of the lumber industry in the eastern part of Canada, more particularly New Brunswick, the transition from the long lumber era to the pulp and paper era. We all know that the long lumber industry employed many more hands than does the pulp and paper industry, and as a result of that transition a large number of men have been permanently thrown out of employment. If the Dominion government have any money to spend for the relief of unemployment, I submit they should embark upon a real policy looking to a permanent solution of the problem instead of contributing to work on highways which will give employment only for a few months in the year. They should adopt some policy to reestablish permanently these men in the economic life of the country. My suggestion is that instead of being provided with work with pick and shovel on the highways for a few months and then thrown back on their villages and towns without work, they should be placed on the land; the money that would be spent in providing temporary work on the highways could be much more effectively used to defray the cost of an extensive scheme of reestablishment on the land.

I throw out the suggestion to the minister because if the problem is a national one, it must be treated nationally. We have proof that the policy followed during the last four or five years has not solved the problem. For the fifth consecutive year the government have come to parliament with the same demands. Not until the Dominion government embarks upon a program of real works of a permanent nature which will enable large portions of our unemployed population to be permanently reestablished in the economic life of the country, will our unemployment difficulties be solved.

Then I submit that the provision relating to the granting of financial assistance to the provinces should be carefully considered before it is again renewed and power granted to the government in that respect. Provincial governments have taken advantage of these powers to embark upon schemes of great magnitude for small provincial governments. They know that the Dominion government have these powers whereby the provinces will

Relief Act, 1934-Mr. Brown

be saved from default; they know the Dominion government will come to their rescue, even if they fail to balance their budgets, and so they embark upon projects upon which they should not embark. I submit that if this power were curtailed, or restrictions placed upon it, it would help the Dominion government and strengthen its hand in intimating to the provinces that they cannot continue to overexpend year after year, fail to balance their budgets, and then come to the Dominion treasury for relief. An end has to be made to this kind of policy which has been followed in recent years by practically all the provinces.

Another feature of this act which is not healthy and is bound to lead to difficulties is that it is a blank cheque for unemployment relief. In the act of last year a maximum of

820,000,000 was set for direct relief. The minister reports that under that act up to a few days ago, the tenth of March, $13,000,000 had been spent, and that there are accounts not yet filed, so that the total may overrun the $20,000,000. But this is no reason why this year the amount should be left blank. If it is necessary to make it a little higher, well and good, but I submit that it would be in the best interests of the provinces as well as of the Dominion government to place a limit on the powers of the provincial governments to spend money; because after all it is the provincial governments that have the last word in the matter. The amount contributed by the Dominion government depends upon how much the provincial governments spend, and we know that in the provinces the matter is left to the municipalities. I submit that this leads to abuses, to overexpenditures, to unnecessary expenditures, and to other difficulties which will have to be met before very long. We cannot allow the provincial governments to overexpend year after year, under the guise of unemployment relief, and then come to the Dominion treasury for assistance. Unless some limitation is placed on the power of the provincial governments to spend money for the relief of unemployment, the Dominion treasury must meet these demands. I submit that the government should say once and for all that they will abandon making contributions towards the cost of direct relief, that they will not subscribe to the cost of public works which are not necessary, but that instead they will undertake a relief program, either by way of public works which are absolutely necessary or by way of gratuities or bonuses to the main industries of the country, which would reinstate a large number of our unemployed. Instead of holding out inducements to the provincial governments to embark upon schemes which will some day lead the provinces to bankruptcy, the Dominion government should initiate a policy of spending that money, if it has to be spent, in helping the basic industries.

Let me illustrate what I mean. I am familiar with the lumbering industry of the east, and particularly of New Brunswick; I do not speak of the industry in the west, where I am not familiar with the conditions. If two years ago the lumbering industry of New Brunswick had been granted half the money that has been spent for road work and direct relief in that province, in order to compensate for the lower prices, they would have continued to employ large numbers of men who have been thrown out of employment and put on relief. Those men would have been employed at the work with which they were familiar, and to-day we would not be faced with the problem presented by many of our people who are not willing to work, who prefer-and quite naturally-to receive the dole or direct relief instead of going back to their former employment. Instead of giving these blank cheques to the government we should limit them, so that in dealing with the provinces, the municipalities or different industries they will be in a position to establish very clearly the different contributors to any unemployment relief projects. In that way we will prevent the abuses which were pointed out this afternoon by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King).

As far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, I should prefer to see the government embark on a real policy of some kind to relieve the situation and do away with direct relief, which, if it is not a policy of the Dominion government, has been subscribed to and approved by the government, and unfortunately to-day we cannot get away from it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB-PRO

John Livingstone Brown

Liberal Progressive

Mr. J. L. BROWN (Lisgar):

Mr. Speaker,. I shall not detain the house at any great-length ; I rise only in order to substantiate a statement I made during the debate on the address. At that time I stated that one of the factors likely to bring about a curtailment of production in the west was the fact that, as the hon. member for Willow Bunch (Mr. Donnelly) has just said, the mortality of horses has been very high, so high that many men will not be in a position to put in their usual acreage. I gave a specific illustration; I said that a gentleman had told me just before I left home that he had counted eight dead horses while driving between two towns only seven miles apart. Now I find that not only can I substantiate my statement but that the condition is infinitely worse than I thought.

Relief Act, 1934-Mr. Brown

When I made that statement, Mr. Speaker, it was questioned by the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Willis) who, in a very patronizing tone, advised the hon. member for Lisgar to be careful in the statements he made. I know that by the rules of the house I am not allowed to read from a former debate, but if any person wishes to find a fine example of the sort of thing that at times passes for reasoning in this house I would refer him to page 336 of Hansard, where the hon. member for Souris sought to offset my statement by saying that he had received letters from four men who were prepared to take affidavits stating that the things I had said were not true. What kind of logic is it when a man puts against a plain, positive statement a negative statement from a man who says he knows nothing about it? That was practically the argument advanced by the hon. member for Souris.

When my statement was questioned I thought I would write home, and I did write to thirteen persons in a very small part of my constituency. I received thirteen replies, and when you receive thirteen replies to thirteen, letters you may rest assured that conditions are serious. I shall not take time to read all these letters, but I should like to quote a sentence from one of them:

Many horses have died. I know of sixty-nine horses that have died in 1-13

That is in one township, six miles square. I also wrote two persons living in the district to which I referred in my previous statement. One man gives me not only the general statement that fifty horses have died; he gives me the names of those who have lost horses, and the number they have lost. I know the majority of those people personally. So I was not very far astray when I said that probably it would be necessary to reduce the wheat acreage in the west because of the mortality among the horses.

I should like also to endorse the position taken by the hon. member for Willow Bunch. Is it not a serious situation when, within a few miles of where these horses are dying, there are thousands of bushels of wheat in the elevators that might be used for feed, if not in the immediate vicinity at least within easy reach? These are the conditions which prevailed six weeks ago, and I am satisfied that they are much worse to-day. When seeding begins the condition will be aggravated, because the horses which have managed to live through the winter will not be able to do half a day's work. The condition in this area is particularly serious, because, comparatively speaking, it is not large. In the southwestern

part of the province, through drought and grasshoppers, there has been complete devastation, and relief has been handed out. In this more limited area, however, there are many individuals who were hit by the drought and grasshoppers just as seriously as were the people in the larger area. Conditions as I know them are most deplorable. [DOT]

Again let me emphasize the necessity for and the desirability of doing something along the lines suggested by the hon. member for Willow Bunch. We are worried about how to dispose of our surplus wheat. Well, we need not worry very long if we are willing to take the obvious course and use it to feed the live stock which is now dying. That is all I wish to say at the moment.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

Joseph Raoul Hurtubise

Liberal

Mr. J. R. HURTUBISE (Nipissing):

Mr. Speaker, it was not my intention to speak this evening, but after hearing what was said by the hon. members for East Algoma (Mr. Nicholson) and North Timiskaming (Mr. Bradette) I thought it my duty to make a few observations. I do not wish to say anything about the general purport of the bill, but shall refer only to one or two points.

May I first speak about the lumber camps in my constituency. In the past I was not as much interested in the lumber industry, but owing to the fact that under the last redistribution the territory allotted to the member for Nipissing has been greatly increased and now embraces an important lumber region, I feel that I have added interest in the matter. Under the redistribution I have not only a district but almost a diocese. At the outset may I say that at least in part I agree with what was said by the hon. member for East Algoma. He spoke at length about the propaganda broadcast by the communist organizations throughout the camps. I know of that activity, and, with the hon. member for East Algoma, I believe if we wish to have peace among our loyal citizens, some measures should be taken to curb such activities. On the other hand he forgot to speak about the honest industrial workers, but it was pleasing to note that the hon. member for North Timiskaming spoke on behalf of that class of labour in the lumber camps. I too will always sympathize with and defend the rights of organized labour, as long as they are reasonable in their demands.

Referring to the work in those camps, located, for the greater part, in the constituency of East Algoma, may I say that in January I wras visited by three young married men full of ambition, who were thrifty and eager to make a success of life. Although

Relief Act, 1934-Mr. Hurtubise

they were not within my constituency they will in the future belong to it. If horn, .members will permit I shall relate briefly the story they told me, which I am sure will indicate that these young men were honest and industrious, and not communists. On October 11 they were hired in Sudbury to work in the Austin and Nicholson camps, and were to work specifically -for J. J. Brownlee, who was mentioned by the hon. member for East Al-goma. For their work they were to be paid from eight to ten cents a log. The three of them worked1 from October 11 to December 5 and in that time cut 3,000 logs. On the 5th of December, wishing to go home to see their families and to settle some of their accounts, they were offered $14, $7 and $11 respectively. May I add that the company scaler oulted 1,000 or one-third of the logs but when the government scaler came along he culled only 300. The men refused the amounts offered to them, and as a result there was an argument. The next morning they were offered larger amounts. The $14 offer had risen to $27.46, the $7 offer to $20.78 and the $11 offer to $22.62. The men accepted the money because they had to go home and had no money in their pockets. The case is now in the hands of their lawyers. These facts will serve to indicate 'the treatment some of the men receive in lumber camps. With the hon. member for East Algoma I am in favour of curbing communist propaganda, but at the same time if we do not take care of the honest men in the lumber camps we will get that condition which we are trying to avoid. We must give justice and satisfaction to the poor labouring classes.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

May I ask a question? Would the hon. member furnish the names of the men and the camps in which they were working?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Raoul Hurtubise

Liberal

Mr. HURTUBISE:

If I am not obliged to give the names I shall not do so, because those men might not have a chance to get further work in the camps. I shall furnish the names only when I am forced to.

The hon. member for North Timiskaming has spoken about a matter in which I am particularly interested, namely the back to the land movement. When last year or the year before we were offered the Gordon plan I, for one, was pleased to see that at last the colonization movement had been given some encouragement. I have watched in detail that movement in my district. I took the trouble last summer to visit at least one hundred of these settlers, and I questioned them as to how they came there, how they were doing, and whether they were on

relief or otherwise; so I know what I am talking about. I do not want to discourage the Gordon plan at all. Perhaps the minister is in earnest about it and means well, and it may succeed in some places, but in my district around Sudbury I must say that the Gordon plan is a real joke, and when we read in the newspapers that the Minister of Labour is increasing the total grant from S600 to 8700 it is a worse joke still, because none of the settlers has yet received one cent of the $600 grant. Naturally the municipality has first to contribute its $200 before the provincial and federal governments will contribute their $200 each, and if the municipality does not furnish its $200 the settler gets none of the S600 grant. So the minister can promise 85,000 if he likes; the settler will not get one cent just the same. Around home the Gordon plan, while it has not been altogether a failure', is not a success; its success has been nil.

A few days ago I put this question to the Minister of Labour:

How much money has been spent in the province of Ontario for colonization purposes?

The answer I received was, $20,564.60. As the hon. member for North Timiskaming said, that is just a drop in the bucket. It means nothing at all. To talk of colonizing a province with S20.000 is absurd, so I hope that the minister will not boast about the amount the government has spent for colonization.

My second question was as to how many had benefited from that colonization plan in Ontario, and the answer was 362. That is, 362 had received the $200 from their municipality. But none of them came from, my district. I was also given a list, in reply to my third question, of the municipalities from which these settlers had come. There were 362 settlers, according to the reply I received, and on the average they had received $455.

I have this question of colonization very much at heart, and I am afraid that if the present plan is not changed we shall lose a great opportunity of making it a success. Many healthy young men who are fitted for the vocation of farming will be lost to the land and will either join the ranks of the socialists or communists or take the first chance that offers of getting work in the industrial centres. These young men are ready to accept some help and go on the land, but they are not given the chance.

I say first of all, Mr. Speaker, a general plan should be formed not only for Ontario but for all the provinces. There should be put in every centre of colonization one man for each little district who will make coloni-

1854 COMMONS

Relief Act, 1934-Mr. Hurtubise

zation his special work-not a political job, but a man who has colonization at heart and wall give his best efforts to make the plan a success. Do not let us have a repetition of what was done in my district, where townships were opened for colonization and men were sent out by the municipalities who would tell them: You go out there and we will see you in a few days. I questioned these settlers and I found that they were given transportation and food and a small building outfit and from $40 to $75 by the municipality. It is done because the municipalities want to get rid of part of their unemployed. After these men have gone out on the land they have to live as best they can. They are not encouraged in any way. They never get the $200 from the municipality, nor the $200 from the province or the federal government.

The first thing that should be done is to survey the townships and have the lots well defined, because what happens now is that settlers very often find, after they have cleared their land and built a little home and put in a few months' work, that it has all been done on their neighbour's property, and that their whole work and time has been lost. That has happened in many cases around Sudbury. So I say that no township should be opened for colonization until it has been properly surveyed and every lot well defined.

Next the settler should be given the chance to earn a few dollars. Do away with all kinds of timber restrictions. To-day the settler is forbidden to cut certain kinds of timber. Remove these timber restrictions, open colonization roads, and even pay the settler a small wage. Give him a chance to earn a few dollars with which to buy something according to his tastes and needs. Just now the situation is that these poor settlers do not know where they stand. They have no work and no chance of earning a dollar. They are on relief, and the first chance they get of a job in the industrial centres they will leave the land and go back to the city. Unless the present plan is changed it is absolutely useless. I am making these suggestions to the government for the benefit of colonization and of the settlers, and I hope that they will be taken into consideration. I have studied the situation in considerable detail.

For the information of the minister may I say that in Sudbury a plan of colonization is being carried out. The man who looks after colonization looks after relief at the same time. It is Mr. Laforest. He is very earnest and

he tries to do all he can. He likes the farmers and he is doing his best to help them, but he himself admits he is absolutely helpless- "We have nothing more to work with." So if the government are earnest about this scheme I hope they will take the means to help these poor fellows and encourage them in their work. As I said a little while ago, agriculture is a vocation, and there is no use bringing from the cities men who are hard up and have big families and do not know what to do for a living, and put them on a farm and expect them to make a success of it. Rather encourage those with farm experience who have only lately gone into the city. Those who have been there a long while it is useless to bring to the land because they will not stay there; as soon as prosperity returns they will hasten back to the city. It would be better to take only those men who have had agricultural experience and have been in the cities but a Short time. The government should give encouragement to the sons of farmers. These boys have had experience and they should ibe assisted with settlers' loans. If these men and boys are not placed upon the land during this time of depression they are liable to go astray and no one knows what will happen to them.

I agree with the hon. member for North Timiskaming when he states that agriculture is the principal industry of this country and that it should be given every encouragement. During the past few weeks reference has been made in the house to all kinds of loans and guarantees given by the government to different industries and corporations in order to help them through this crisis. What has been done and what is intended to be done in the future for agriculture? Unless something is done, that industry is doomed.

As I stated last year, the system of education in the rural districts should be changed. The present system develops mentality for the city, and the textbooks should be changed entirely. I hope the federal and provincial governments will cooperate and see that there is a change in the system of education. I should like to see less money spent on agricultural colleges and more on small district organizations. A short time ago I read that there were 250 agronomists in the province of Quebec and as many more engaged in preparatory work. In northern Ontario, which is the largest part of the province, there are only three or four agronomists. These men can only get around to the different districts once in a while. Unless the younger generation is

Private Bills

educated along scientific lines the future of agriculture is doomed. I hope the government will be able to make as large expenditures, under the peace, order and good government part of this bill, on colonization work and agriculture as will be made for the assistance of other activities.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Bernard Munroe Stitt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STITT (Nelson):

I should like to ask the minister a question based upon the statement made a few minutes ago by the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Brown). If my memory serves me aright, the hon. member stated that 69 horses starved to death in one township. I do not doubt the veracity of that statement but I should like to know if the government has attempted to limit the Manitoba government in any way, shape or form in connection with the giving out of relief in these drought areas.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The answer is in the negative.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Bernard Munroe Stitt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STITT (Nelson):

In that case the

fault lies with the provincial government, the government which the hon. member for Lisgar almost ran his feet off two or three years ago trying to elect.

On motion of Mr. Veniot the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink

At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Tuesday, March 27, 1934


March 26, 1934