February 19, 1935

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. W. A. GORDON (Acting Minister of Immigration):

I was not able to hear the

question but I shall read it in Hansard to-morrow.

Topic:   TRACADIE LAZARETTO
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UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION


The house resumed from Monday, February 18, consideration in committee of Bill No. 8, to establish an unemployment and social insurance commission, to provide for a national employment service, for insurance against unemployment, for aid to unemployed persons, and for other forms of social insurance and security, and for purposes related thereto-Mr. Bennett-Mr. Morand in the chair. On section 15 (as printed; now section 14) -Persons to be insured against unemployment; "employed persons" defined.


LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Yesterday the Prime

Minister gratified me when reciting those delightful words of Tennyson:

An infant crying in the night:

An infant crying for the light:

And with no language but a cry.

In return, may I dedicate this little poem to him:

Year after year, day and night An infant cries for the light;

But, alas! he cannot know-

The P.M. always says " NO."

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

This section deals with the

persons who will come under the act, and

Unemployment Insurance

also with those who will be exempted or excepted. I notice in part II, page 31 of the bill, the following excepted employments enumerated:

(a) Employment in agriculture, horticulture and forestry;

(b) Employment in fishing;

(c) Employment in lumbering and logging;

(d) Employment in hunting and trapping;

(e) Employment in transportation by water *or by air, and stevedoring.

And so on. It seems to me that if we are going to pass in this parliament an act to take care of persons who are unemployed, giving them some protection or insurance, the measure should be broad enough to cover all classes in the community. I remember that once when I was a boy I took home from school three or four of my chums and my mother got out the cookie jar. We helped ourselves. At the bottom of the jar there was an extra cookie and I tried to get it, but she said that there were no stepbaims in our family. I submit that there should be no stepbaims in the family of Canada; everyone should be treated alike. I have no objection if all the people who work with their hands in this country come under the bill, but I do object to certain classes coming under it while others who will not benefit by it will have to pay to help those who do. In the speech delivered by the Prime Minister on the second reading of the bill, in discussing those who did not come under the bill he gave certain figures. I cannot put my hand on the particular passage in which he dealt with those who would not come under the fishing section in paragraph (b) which I have quoted, part II, but if I remember rightly he said that there were only ten thousand fishermen who would not come under the act. I have here a copy of the annual report of the Department of Fisheries and while I realize that figures differ, at the same time, in this annual report for 1933-34, the total number of persons employed in fishing is given at page 7 as 79,328, of whom 65,391 were engaged in catching the fish and 13,937 were employed on shore in canneries and fish-curing establishments. I do not know whether the Prime Minister got his figures from Mr. Watson or not, but if I remember correctly the figure he gave was 10,000. When he gave this figure I realized immediately that there was a mistake somewhere; I believe 79,000 is much more correct. I would say to the government that if this bill is to be particularly operative the fishermen have a right to come under it as well as other employees in the country, whether in manufacturing establishments or anywhere else. The fishermen are labourers; they are employees who are giving their time

and labour to create business in this country and to bring new wealth into Canada. But it seems to me that these fishermen should be placed in the same position as those engaged in other callings who will come under the act. At page 728 of Hansard, on February 12, the Prime Minister gave the figure of excluded males in fishing and trapping as 10,379. If the figures the right hon. gentleman read yesterday are no more accurate than those which somebody gave him and which he quoted on that date, then it appears to me that we are dealing with this matter in the dark, and we should get further information before going on. I contend that if these people are going to pay toward unemployment insurance, the legislation should be broadened so that our fishermen may come under it.

There is another class that, I notice, is exempted. Paragraph (e) of part II of the first schedule on page 31 reads:

Employment in transportation by water or by air, and stevedoring.

Surely if people in factories and manufacturing plants are entitled to consideration or relief under this measure, stevedores should be included. I would like to know what the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Quinn) has to say with regard to the fact that stevedores and longshoremen are not included in this legislation. Not only in Halifax but in Saint John, Quebec, Montreal, Vancouver and elsewhere there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of stevedores and longshoremen who earn their wages by the sweat of their brow and they certainly should come under this measure. I respectfully submit to the Prime Minister that the legislation should be amended so that paragraph (e) of part II of the first schedule will read so as to remove stevedores and longshoremen from excepted employment. In that way stevedores and longshoremen would have the benefit of this bill if it is going to be passed by parliament. I notice another class of people is not mentioned, but they may come under the class of stevedores. I refer to the men who work on the different wharves or in the different fish plants, especially in Nova Scotia. In Halifax and other centres in that province we have a large number of men who work by the day, who are paid by the hour, who certainly handle the products of this country and who should also be included. I respectfully submit to the Prime Minister that these men, both stevedores, longshoremen and labourers in fish plants as well as fishermen should be included in and receive the benefits of this legislation,

Unemployment Insurance

because, if they are not included they have to pay their proportion of the amount which the government puts up.

Yesterday in suggesting that this legislation should not be handled by a commission, 1 modestly stated that perhaps an amount of $250,000 would be saved if instead it were administered by one of the departments of government. Latdr on the Prime Minister said that the expenses of handling this legislation by commission would amount to something like $7,000,000. This huge amount must come out of the taxpayers; it must come out of the fishermen, longshoremen, farmers and others. Although the committee adopted that particular clause providing that the legislation should be entrusted to a commission. if we can save $5,000,000 or $6,000,000 by having one of the departments instead of a commission handle the matter, I say to the Prime Minister that in view of the financial situation in which we find ourselves to-day, it would be a waste of money to spend $7,000,000 and to inaugurate and put into operation another commission with a nulnber of unnecessary employees, to do work which could very well be done by the Labour or some other department. I protest against the fishermen, longshoremen and labourers in fish plants being excepted. If this law is going to be broad; if we are going to have a proper act to look after the labouring men and other employees in this country, every class in the community should be included instead of there being certain exceptions as set forth in paragraph (e) of part H in the first schedule.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

In speaking to the subject

now before the committee, I have no intention of opposing the clause as it stands. I have no amendment to offer, but I feel it my duty to call the attention of the promoter of this measure to the fact that I believe an injustice is being done to a large proportion of the population I have the honour to represent in this house. The hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough has referred to the fishing industry, pointing out that the figures given by the Prime Minister are incorrect. When the statement was made by the right hon. gentleman, I was somewhat surprised to learn that there were only 10,000 fishermen in the dominion earning their living. As the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough has said, the correct number is far in excess of 10,000. He referred to -the report of last year of the Department of Fisheries, -but I wish to refer to the census report of 1931 which shows that there are 34,340 persons gainfully engaged in the fishing industry. In the county of Glouces-

ter -there are more than 2,500 fishermen. Not all of these are gainfully employed; some are proprietors who could not come under this act and nobody would expect them to do so. But in my county alone there are more than

2,000 engaged in fishing. It is true it may be stated that fishing is a seasonable occupation, but if we are going to protect those who are engaged the whole year around on salary or wages and who are able to maintain their families, why should we not do something for those engaged in seasonable occupations? They certainly should be given- a chance, if not -to such a great extent, at least along the same lines as those engaged the year around.

Having said that about the fishing industry, let me now deal with the logging industry. My wish, while I am on that point, is to ask a question for the sake of information and I am going to cite a concrete ease. A pulpmill in my home town works part time; the work is not carried on during every working day of the month or the year. For instance, about 300 men are employed about the pulp-mill. A certain number work for a given number of days in the month; then they are replaced by another group. How can such workmen come under this measure? I take it, as this is not logging and lumbering in the sense in which I understand the term in the exemption clause, they could come under the legislation if they were constantly engaged the year round. But what will be the result? When this legislation comes into force, the men will be demanding compensation, if I may use that expression-, or the benefits provided by .the bill; they will be demanding to be allowed to come in under it. The result is going to be that this company instead of employing 150 for a period of a fortnight and another 150 for another period of a fortnight, is going to employ 150 regularly and -the other 150 will be thrown on the street. Therefore the effect will be increased unemployment instead of a benefit.

Further, I should like to have from the Prime Minister a definition of what is meant by employment in lumbering and logging. I understand logging to refer to the operations in the bush; would it include driving down the streams in the spring? Would lumbering include men engaged in the sawmill yards, and in sawing lumber? I see no definition of that term, and I know .that when I return home I shall be waited upon by the lumber interests of my county, which are very large, and asked for an explanation of this. I ask the Prime Minister to give a definition of the term "employment in lumbering and logging" as used in clause (c).

Unemployment Insurance

For the present I have nothing further to say except to correct the figures given by the Prime Minister the other day as to the number engaged in the lumber industry. I think the number he gave as engaged in gainful employment in the lumber industry in Canada was about 41,000. Now that figure is certainly wrong. There is one province alone in this dominion in which almost that number are employed in gainful operations in the bush, on the streams or at the mills. In order to have accurate figures before the committee I suggest that the matter foe looked into more carefully. The census gives 49,960 in forest and logging operations; that census was taken in June, 1931. People were asked at what they were employed at that time, There is some lumbering going on in June, but very little in the province of Quebec and the maritime provinces. So those figures are not correct. Not that I wish to say that the census enumerators made false returns; far from it, but the census questions were not arranged in such a way as to distinguish between those employed almost continuously in lumber and logging operations and those so employed merely at the time they were visited in the month of June.

Mr. MaoLEAN: I wish to support the contention raised by the hon. member for An-tigonish-Guysborough (Mr. Duff) and the hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Yeniot). 1 do not know that I can go quite as far as they did as to the whole 75,000 noted as employed in fisheries coming- under the act. But part 1 of the schedule reads:

Employment in Canada under any contract of service or apprenticeship, written or oral, whether expressed or implied,

While a number of our fishermen work on their own behalf there are large numbers employed by various companies. I quite see the difficulty in obtaining and reporting the forty weeks of continuous employment in the year, still 'I believe that there are large numbers of them who should receive consideration, because it is their sole employment; they have no other means of livelihood. Take the lobster packing plants and other plants that employ men in the packing and shipping of fish; some of those people are given almost continuous employment, so that if other people employed in other industries are to receive the benefits of this measure it would seem fair that some consideration should be given to the fishermen who are thus employed.

Another point is that the cost of the operation of this measure will be borne by the community as a whole. Men in business can

pass the cost on by adding it to their price, as they do the sales tax, so that the consuming public at large will in the long run contribute the largest proportion towards the upkeep of this scheme. For that reason alone I think that everyone who can reasonably be brought under the measure should be given consideration. I know there are difficulties, but consideration should be given to every class of the community and an endeavour made to work, out a plan that will be just and fair to all.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARGIL:

given the benefit of this measure? And why should not the same thing apply to lumbering? I know men who are employed the year round in lumbering, they are in the shanties in the winter and in the sawmills in the summer, and in the spring they are occupied in driving operations. They are employed practically the year round by large lumber firms; why should they not have the benefit of this measure? I appeal again to the Prime Minister, who has evidently given a great deal of consideration to the matter, to reconsider his decision and give these people a fair deal, because the benefits of the measure should be extended to all classes as far as possible.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain

Liberal

Mr. CASGRAIN:

I am in somewhat the

same position as the hon. members who have just spoken, since I represent a district in which there are farmers, lumbermen and fishermen, and I endorse the remarks that have been made by the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough, the hon. member for Gloucester and the hon. member for Bona-venture. Ever since this bill has been before the house I have been wondering if the Prime Minister would not reconsider his decision and try to include under it those people engaged in forestry, lumbering, fishing and farming. We were told that this measure was to help all classes of the community, and I would not like to see the people who will be called upon to pay their share of the cost indirectly, that is, the farmers, fishermen and lumbermen, get no relief. I think we should have a final, definite explanation from the Prime Minister as to why he has not seen fit to include these classes under the bill and as to whether at an early date in the future we may expect them to be so included.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Under the provisions of this section it appears that the commission has power to put certain industries in the excluded class, but the commission has not power to include industries which are now excluded under the provisions of this bill. It seems to be a very one-sided affair. I observe that among those excluded are some that certainly should be included. I am not going to refer to those classes that have been mentioned already, but I should like to know why bank employees should be put in a different category, together with the employees of other institutions in which at times unemployment becomes rife. I have had representations made to me by bank messengers and others who feel that they should come within the provisions of any act insuring against unemployment. According to the

statement made by the Prime Minister about a week ago there are some 57,000 people employed in financial institutions who will not come under the act. I think they should come under it; I do not think we ought to give favoured treatment to banks or any other financial institutions.

There is one other point I should like to raise at this time. When the Prime Minister introduced this bill last Tuesday he said there were approximately 1,700,000 people who would be eligible to come under the provisions of the bill. I believe those figures were based on the census of 1931. I should like to know the number actually qualified at this time to come under the provisions of the bill. After all there may be a great difference between the number qualified in 1931 and the number qualified to-day. The figures given by the Prime Minister with regard to the 1931 census may be absolutely correct according to the statements given the enumerators, but I have a very strong feeling that with the vast increase in unemployment since 1931 the number who may be qualified will be very much smaller than the number stated by the Prime Minister a week ago. So I should like to know if the Prime Minister has any later figures to give the house as to approximately how many working people, men and women, would be able to qualify as participants in the proposed measure.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

Coming as I do from

an agricultural constituency, and as the farmer receives no benefits whatever under this bill, naturally I am not very enthusiastic about it. The only thing the farmer has to do is pay the bill.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Who?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

The farmer. Since there seems to be some doubt as to who are included under this bill, I would like to ask the Prime Minister with regard to two classes, as to whether they come under this act. The first is the man operating a grain elevator. He is the agent for one of the grain companies; he buys and sells grain. Will he be considered a farmer, or will he be able to take advantage of this act? The other case is that of the man operating a lumber yard in a small town on the prairies. Is he considered a lumberman; is he brought under this act or is he excluded? I should like the Prime Minister to tell us how those two classes will be dealt with.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

The debate so far this afternoon has consisted more or less of protests by certain members that certain classes of the

Unemployment Insurance

community do not come within the operations of the bill. I have a matter of a different nature to bring up, not with any intention of urging action but simply to ask the question. I have been approached by owners of commercial establishments, stores as they are popularly known, and representations have been made to me that in an establishment employing some fifty or sixty clerks, after a check up it was found that if there had been an unemployment insurance scheme in force for the last five years benefits would have been obtained in only one instance. That may not be typical of the situation in general, but I rise to ask whether the commission which will have charge of the administration of the act could take steps to exclude from the operations of the act, if it should be found desirable to do so, such establishments as I have mentioned. I know the act provides that the commission shall make recommendations, presumably to the governor in council, for the inclusion of those who do not now come within the act, and I should like to ask whether the commission has similar power to make recommendations or actually to exclude certain classes which they find it inadvisable to include within the scope of the bill.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that members of the committee apparently have not found it desirable to read the section. We are dealing with section 15, and if the section were read I think some of the questions that have been asked would be readily answered. The section reads:

(1) Subject to the provisions of this act, all persons of the age of sixteen years and upwards who are engaged in any of the employments specified in part I of the first schedule of this act, not being employments specified as excepted employments in part II of that schedule (in this act referred to as "employed persons"), shall be insured against unemployment in manner provided by this act. and the employment in which any such person is engaged shall in this act be referred to as "insurable employment."

(2) Where it appears to the commission-

Not to the governor in council.

-that the terms and conditions of service of, and the nature of the work performed by, any class of persons employed in an excepted employment are so similar to the terms and conditions of service of, and the nature of the W'ork performed by, a class of persons employed in an insurable employment as to result in anomalies in the operation of this act, the commission may. by regulations either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as may be specified in the regulations, either:-

(a) provide for including the class of persons employed in insurable employment among the classes of persons employed in excepted employment; or

And, turning over the page-

(b) provide for including the class of persons employed in excepted employment among the classes of persons employed in insurable employment.

Just why the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) read paragraph (a) of subsection (2) and did not read paragraph (b) on the following page, I do not know. He said, in effect, "You can take them out of it, but you cannot take them in." If he had just turned over the page he would find that there is a provision for taking them in, a provision which is as clear as words can make it. What purpose is served by making a statement of that kind in this committee, knowing I would be here to answer it, unless such a misstatement is calculated to arouse prejudice in some minds that we are going to be fair to one class and unfair to another class. There it is. Anyone knows the commission may place workers in the excepted class or, if circumstances warrant, take them out of that class. Then there is the further subsection:

The commission may by regulations provide, subject to such exceptions and conditions as the commission think fit, for adding any class of employment to the excepted employments but only as respects persons who are in any week employed in that class of employment to such extent (being in the opinion of the commission inconsiderable) as may be specified in the regulations.

The question we are asked this afternoon has to do with why fishing is not included. I endeavoured to give an answer the other day, but I shall repeat it now. Fishing is a seasonal employment, and if it does create conditions such as those which have been referred to either in that industry, or in some other industry-notably lumbering- then there is a provision for bringing them within the operation of the statute.

Then the question was asked as to whether or not a man in this or that particular occupation would be classed within or without, and the answer is that at the inception of a measure such as the one before us in all countries it has been found impossible to lay down any hard and fast rules. The commission itself will after an investigation of circumstances determine to what extent there shall be any variation from the rule laid down. Behind it there is the answer which I endeavoured to make yesterday, namely that this measure is founded upon the basis of benefits being paid out of a fund proportionate to the sums that are paid into that fund. The difficulty of ascertaining what sum should be paid into the fund with respect

Unemployment Insurance

to classes mentioned this afternoon is too great to enable the legislature in the first instance to lay down a rule. In Great Britain, under the amendment of last year, the provisions with respect to the commission bringing in or taking out are substantially the same as those now before this committee. It will be found of course that if you bring arbitrarily within the operation of this measure large numbers of people who may not be able to continue to make payments or who by the very nature of things are not employed for forty weeks in two years you might find a position in which the fund would be insolvent. This is a solvent fund; it is built upon scientific bases and is intended to be maintained in that position.

The difficulties to which references have been made, notably that of determining whether a man is a logger or a lumberman are not inconsiderable. My own judgment would be that a man who works on the sawing of logs, the planing of them and the production of the finished product of lumber is in the lumbering business, while on the other hand a man engaged in cutting trees is probably classed as a logger. It may be thht when this measure begins to operate it will 'be very desirable to include within its provisions some of those who are not now included, and shutting out some who are now in. That however is a matter which will have to be determined in the light of the effect upon the fund itself.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Would the act have to be

amended?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No; there is provision

already in the measure. May I direct the hon. member's attention to the bottom of page 7 and the top of page 8, paragraphs (a) and (b), which cover the point to which he has made reference, and especially the language in subsection (2) which states that if anomalies may arise by reason of the operation of the classifications, then changes should be made.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

With

reference to paragraph (a) of subsection (2), may I say that I can see no difficulty in including employees who are now excepted, but if the commission decides to except employees now insurable would there be any compensation to those employees who while in insurable employment have made actual contributions to the fund?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is a provision at

a later point in the measure for taking care of that particular situation. I know the hon. member has studied the matter with a great

deal of care, and realizes that there must be some method of detling with anomalies which are bound to arise.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

By

regulations.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT ANB SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION
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February 19, 1935