May 27, 1935

LIB

Eugène Fiset

Liberal

Sir EUGENE FISET:

I am sorry that when the minister read the list submitted by the officials of the Canadian National Railways of the different shops to which this kind of repair work was to be allotted, he omitted altogether the names of smaller railway shops that exist in small communities. I would like to mention for instance the terminal of Mont Joli and the terminal of Riviere du Loup. The two railway shops that exist there are not mentioned in the minister's list. I would like to call his attention to the fact that at Mont Joli, which has a population entirely of railways employees, nearly two-thirds of that population has been retrograded or temporarily suspended owing to lack of work; that the work being carried on in the shop there has practically speaking been nil and that the staff has been reduced from nearly 250 employees a few years ago to about twenty-five at the present time. The others are without employment, and the least that could be done as far as those small shops are concerned is that repair work within their own division should be given to them. I would appeal to the minister to try to induce the railway authorities to give a chance to that local population.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

When I gave the names of the shops I merely mentioned the names of the main shops as given to me by my deputy who looked them up for me. That does not mean that the smaller shops may not receive some of the work. It is my desire, so far as I can influence both railway companies, to have them do exactly as my hon. friend suggests. These are what are called the main shops. There are also many little shops in other sections, as my hon. friend knows, to which I should like to see the railways endeavour to give some work, and so far as I can I shall try to have them do so.

Public Works Program

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

First of all I wish to say a word in regard to wages in those contract shops. I have had communications just as the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Maclnnis) has, telling me of the very low wages that are being paid in certain of the contract shops in which it is proposed that some of this equipment should be manufactured. I am informed in these communications that the wages are about two-thirds and in some cases one-half of what they are in the railway shops. I feel that the answer given by the Minister of Railways is entirely inadequate to meet the situation. He cannot make the excuse that the contracts are going to be let by the railways to the contract shops and that therefore the government have no responsibility in the matter.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I did not say that.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

It is public funds that are being expended, Where public funds are being expended we ought to insist on fair labour conditions being observed. Wherever the equipment happens to be made we ought to insist on fair wages being paid in those shops in exactly the same way as they are paid in the government railway shops. It is most unfair that shops in which wages are about one-half to two-thirds of those paid in organized shops should compete with shops where fair wages are being paid.

Assuming contracts are let, the committee have the right to know the basis on which they will be let. Is it to be by open tender? Are the government railways shops to be allowed to bid for this work? If the work is to be let by contract I think every railway shop that is equipped to manufacture such equipment should have an opportunity of tendering, including the government railway shops. In spite of letters submitted here from Mr. Hungerford and Mr. Coleman, I am prepared to accept the statement of mechanics working in those shops, men who have given a lifetime of service in the manufacture of railway equipment, when they tell me that such equipment can be produced in those shops. If contracts are to be let we ought to know whether they are going to be let at a fixed price or by tender, open tender, in which case the railway shops should be allowed to tender. I am informed by men employed in the railway shops that equipment can be produced there as cheaply as in the privately owned shops. It is correct to say that the contract shops have been closed now for quite a long time. That being so I assume very little harm would be done in many cases if they were allowed to remain closed and the work

*vere given to the shops that are at least equipped and prepared to accept the work which this sum of money involves, and where decent wages are paid according to Canadian standards. I am informed that the number of men employed in these private contract shops at the present time amounts to only a few hundred for all the shops. I am told that a few are employed at Kingston for the manufacture of locomotives, but very few at some of the other places; and I doubt whether any hardship would he inflicted if the work were not given to these contract shops. The argument of the minister that we should not allow these shops to go into bankruptcy may sound very well. I do not want to see any concern forced into bankruptcy, but I have heard it argued in this house-I do not know that the minister has not used the argument himself-that it might have been a good thing if the national railway system had gone into bankruptcy before the government took it over.

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Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I did not say the national railway system; I said it might have been a good thing if the Grand Trunk and Canadian Northern had.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Well, I did not put it quite as correctly as the minister has. The minister further objects to the government going into the making of equipment in competition with privately owned concerns. Coming from a gentleman so much in favour of public ownership, that argument sounds rather strange to me. In the first place we are using government money to pay for this equipment, but we are going to allow private contract shops to produce it and of course incidentally to take the profit. I think we ought to get a good deal more information from the minister in regard to this matter. I would like to know how many men are affected in the private contract shops; how many are working there at the present time; how these tenders will be let, whether by open and public advertisement, and whether the railway shops equipped to manufacture the same class of equipment will be allowed to tender. Finally I want to know whether the minister and the government will insist that wherever these contracts are let they will carry a fair wage provision.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

As far as I can I shall answer the questions of my hon. friend, but I repeat that I am no railway expert, any more than, he is.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

I am not.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

So I shall just answer to the best of my ability. He said he under-

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stood that these contracts would affect only a few men in the equipment manufacturing shops. 1 am informed that they will affect quite a few thousand.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Does the minister say there

are a few thousand men working there at the present time?

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Certainly not; there are

practically none, because these shops have been closed for some years. I say these contracts will affect thousands of men who would go to work. That is the argument, that these men and these equipment shops have not had any work at all for four years, perhaps five in most oases. The hon. member also said that I was a friend of public ownership. I have never particularly argued that I am a friend of public ownership. I am a friend of the Canadian National Railways, and as we have public ownership of that railway and of the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario I am friendly to what we have. But I do not know that I have stated, and I do not think my hon. friend could find my words saying anything about my attitude on the question of public ownership. I am a friend of the Canadian National Railways, and have been endeavouring to show that I am in spite of a good deal of talk to the contrary throughout the country.

My hon. friend also said that I said we had no responsibility in regard to the fair wage clause or wages paid in equipment shops. I made no such statement. My hon. friend is usually fairer than that. In reply to the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Maclnnis) I stated that I would endeavour to see that fair wages were paid in these equipment shops. It is rather a strange thing-I am wondering how much is just complaint and how much is argument-that in all the time that these equipment orders have been discussed in the press I have yet to receive from any employee of equipment shops a statement by letter or by word of mouth that he has not been fairly treated. Until to-night I never heard that there was anything unfair about the treatment of men in any of the equipment shops. As far as fair wages are concerned I repeat that my hon. friend although a labour representative has no greater desire for fair treatment of the working people than I have, or I think most other members of the house. I shall certainly endeavour to see that the men are paid fair wages. I shall look at the figures given by the hon. member for Vancouver South and I shall be glad to receive from him

the name of the shop to which he refers, because I can hardly believe that such wages are paid except possibly to some apprentice or something of the kind. If he will give me the name of the shop I shall gladly draw it to the attention of the railway companies and indicate that the government desires them to see that fair wages are paid for this work.

In regard to permitting government shops to tender on the building of this equipment, by all means that will not be done as far as I am concerned. I do not think it is any part of the business of the Canadian National Railway repair shops-because that is what they are-to tender on such work against any private company; not because one is a private company and the other a government company, but because that is not the business of the repair shops of the Canadian National Railways. I have no control over it, but suppose the Canadian National repair shops, say in the centre from which my hon. friend from Winnipeg comes, did tender on a job of this sort and then fell down. Suppose their tender was a million dollars and the work cost a million and a half; my hon. friend and I would have to chip in to pay the deficit, not the railway shop men.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

What happens when the

private manufacturer falls down.

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Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

He goes into bankruptcy, and, perhaps unfortunately, the Canadian National Railways cannot be permitted to go into bankruptcy because we are on its bonds and unless we repudiate our debts we have to pay them. I do not think it would be fair that government railway shops, built for making repairs, shoidd be permitted to go into the manufacturing business and compete with the plants from which the railways get a good deal of their business.

As to the workmen who told my hon. friend that the railway repair shops can do the work as well as the private companies, it reminds me of the privates at the front who used to know more than General Sir Arthur Currie about running the war. I do not mind saying that during this discussion with regard to equipment I have received many letters from shop men, each of whom takes the attitude that he knows vastly more about the whole railway business than Mr. S. J. Hungerford, Mr. D. C. Coleman or even Mr. Beatty. With all due respect I submit that probably Mr. Beatty, Mr. Hungerford and Mr. Coleman should know a little more about the general

Public Works Program

economics of the railway situation than the employees in the shops. I am anxious to see that whatever work is done under this measure should be fairly divided throughout Canada and carried on in such a manner that the workingmen will receive fair treatment, and I shall do everything in my power to see that this is done.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I am rather surprised to learn that Mr. Hungerford or Mr. Coleman or Mr. Beatty, or whoever it was, made the statement that the railroad shops were not in a position to manufacture and produce this equipment. In the Transcona shops, unless I have been told what is not correct, they have built locomotives and coaches to some considerable extent, as I believe has been the case in other shops of the Canadian National system and perhaps also of the Canadian Pacific. At Transcona we have a shop that is prepared to build anything at all if they receive the forms; that is to say, they are prepared to assemble engines, passenger cars, refrigerator cars or anything else. As a matter of fact they are building refrigerator cars, stock cars and freight cars all the time; it is part of their business. Originally one shift alone employed nearly three thousand men. At present there are only about 1.500 men working on one shift. Formerly there were often two and sometimes three shifts of men working; now there is never more than one shift, numbering in all about 1.500 men.

I understand that the back shops alone, of the two railway systems, employ some fifty thousand men, whereas the men who will be employed by these contract shops will not number more than ten thousand at the very outside. So it does not seem to me a very fair division of the money that is to be voted ' for the relief of the workmen of this country when fifty thousand men have only 34,000,000 divided among them in providing work and ten thousand men will get the benefit of the balance of the $15,000,000.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

As a matter of information could my hon. friend say how many of the fifty thousand are at work at the present time?

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I cannot say, but that

was the full man force of the two railways when they were in full operation.

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Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

That is the figure the men used. I hope my hon. friend will pardon my interruption; the reason I asked the question was that I wished to point out that perhaps half or two-thirds of those men, for all I know, have been carrying on throughout, certainly not at full time in many instances but at least to a certain extent. That is the

point I am making. These men who have been carrying on can hardly in fairness be compared with the men in equipment shops who have not been carrying on at all.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

That may be so, but as

the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Maclnnis) said a few moments ago, many of these men are not making two-thirds of their former earnings. A man who formerly earned between $900 and $1,000 a year now earns less than $600. Together with some other members and some senators I had occasion to meet a group of these men, and they pointed out that they would be almost better off on relief than getting the wages they are receiving at the present time. It was pointed out, as I said a moment ago, that a man who formerly earned between $900 and $1,000 was now earning less than $600 a year. The wages of many of these men have been so reduced that they might have been almost as well off on relief.

There is another point that I think is worthy of note. The money that will be spent in order to provide work for men in the railroad shops certainly will go to the men in very large measure. On the other hand the contractors and syndicates who own the contract shops among whom will be spent the remainder of the money undoubtedly will realize a good share of that money and possibly only a very small proportion will reach the workmen in the long run. Under those circumstances, Mr. Chairman, although $4,000,000 is a good deal better than $3,000,000, it seems to me even $4,000,000 is hardly enough. I wish the minister could see his way clear to make it at least $5,000,000, because $4,000,000 seems a very small proportion in comparison with the money that is to go to private shops.

I do not believe I need say anything with regard to the abuses that have grown up in connection with trucking, as it affects the live stock industry. There is no doubt that the trucks have taken business away from the railways, but as far as the farmers in my part of the country are concerned, transportation of live stock by trucks has been more or less of a godsend. Formerly the cattle were loaded in stock cars, which were allowed to hang around the railway for a day or two before reaching the stockyards. In many instances the farmers got very poor runs; in the end the charges were just the same and the cattle were very much worse off. As it is now the cattle get to the stockyards within a few hours, and it is very much to the advantage of the farmers to have the truck transportation even though it does work to the detriment of the railways.

30S4

Public Works Program

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Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There appears to be a good deal of doubt as to just how far this is a relief measure. The bill is entitled "an act to create employment by public works and undertakings throughout Canada and to authorize the guarantee of certain railway equipment securities." We are dealing now particularly with the railway equipment securities, but I take it that the real purpose of the expenditure of this large amount of money is to create a greater measure of employment. It seems to me

there are really three groups that have to be considered. First we have the workingmen. I would join with others in suggesting that a much larger proportion of this money should -go to the railway shops which are now in operation, and that as much of this money as possible should be spent for repairs rather than on new equipment, because in connection with new equipment there is much less labour than in connection with repairs. I think the minister has made it clear to us that the second group receiving consideration -I think I might go so far as to say relief- consists of the heavy industries of this country or, as he puts it, those engaged in the manufacture of capital goods.

It does seem to me that this subsidizing of private industry is rather a new principle. In the past in this country private industry has been subsidized by tariffs and bonuses but now we are doing it in a new way, by directly contributing out of the public fund, in order to keep up private industries, some of which have been closed down for five years. A little while ago the minister said railway shops could not be permitted to go bankrupt, implying that private concerns might be allowed to do so. In this case the minister is insisting that the private concerns should not be allowed to go bankrupt; I think that is clear. In answer to my colleague from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps), with regard to the conditions of labour, the minister said that it was quite possible that private concerns might go bankrupt, but he is not permitting these heavy industries to go bankrupt. He is deliberately taking several millions of dollars belonging to the people of Canada to subsidize private industry.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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May 27, 1935