March 31, 1936

CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I should like to support, as representative of a soldier constituency, what the hon. member for London (Mr. Betts) has said. The day has gone by when any soldier out of employment should be at the mercy of tag-days and poppy-day funds and that kind of thing. The government itself, in its large public departments, can do better in giving preference to returned men. This commission, properly constituted and ade-

Veterans' Assistance Commission

quately supported, can do a great work for returned soldiers. In 1916, when the first troops came back to the city I represented, which sent 60,000 men to the war, the city and all its outside commissions were instructed to be a commission of one to give returned soldiers the preference. When I see in my own riding, in the north west, where Christie Street hospital is, the district I formerly represented, advertisements in newspapers by civilian organizations of poppy-day funds and tag-day funds and appeals for secondhand clothing, baby carriages and so forth for returned men out of work, I think Canada should be very heartily ashamed of itself.

The minister is to be commended for the forward policy he announced in Vancouver and for his statement in Toronto at the last Armistice day. I believe he is the proper man to put some kind of heart into methods for providing employment. After all is said and done, the returned soldier, from what I have seen, seems to have got all the pick and shovel jobs. I have studied the matter carefully, and I agree with the hon. member for London that we should put some teeth into this legislation, and that we should carry out the program ourselves, as a House of Commons, in connection with appointments to the bench, to the senate and other such positions, instead of giving the ex-service men pick and shovel jobs and leaving them to the hazards of seasonal and cyclical employment in industry and agriculture. In too many cases the returned soldier finds himself out of work, with the bailiff in his house, and his family and himself at the mercy of tag-days and poppy-day funds. I heartily support the resolution; I hope that this will be one commission that will be taken out of politics, and that soldiers who fought at the front, irrespective of their political party, will be placed on it.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
Permalink
CON

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROOKS:

I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but I am in perfect accord with the three resolutions touching this subject, and very much in accord with what has been said by the previous speaker. There is no question but that the governments of Canada, the present government and past governments, have been very sympathetic towards the returned man; if there has been any difficulty in regard to returned soldiers' matters it has been in the administration and, as was stated a moment ago by the hon. member for London, we hope that in the administration of these measures when they are put into force there will be no politics so that whatever is done will be done for the benefit of the returned men.

As an example of what administration has done in regard to the appeal court situation in the dominion, I understand that there were some 1,500 appeals by the veterans in 1935 and that only a dozen or so of them passed the appeal court. That may not be quite correct, but it shows that the appeal court has not been functioning to the advantage of the returned man. Other measures with regard to returned men are administered in the same way, and if that state of affairs continues we may be sure that the returned man is not going to receive very much benefit.

I think the third resolution, if carried out as intended, will help the man whom it is intended to help. We all know that the man who was severely wounded received his pension without trouble; his was an obvious case. I would not say that he received compensation, because I do not think any pension is compensation to a man for the loss of his arm or his leg. Another man who received his pension very easily was the man who was taken into the army though medically unfit. I think every returned soldier knows that many men were taken into the Canadian army who should not have been there, who were a burden upon the country from the time they enlisted. Those men had medical history sheets a yard long, but when they come up for pension it is very easy for them to prove their case. There is another class, however, the young men eighteen, nineteen, twenty and twenty-one, who were physically fit in every sense of the word, who went to France and served for three or four years, who served in the trenches-and any returned man knows what that means-and who returned home unwounded, with no medical history sheets. Later, however, they developed illnesses as a result of the war. Men of this type have not received justice; due to their having no medical history sheet it. is impossible for them to get pensions. I think these are the men who can be helped under this third resolution, and I sincerely hope they will be helped. There are many of them in every town in Canada.

The one thing that has appealed to me as far as pension legislation is concerned is that there has been too much red tape, too much bureaucracy here in Ottawa, possibly, and not enough of the personal element. I hope they will get down to the individual, and that the individual who needs help and who should be helped will receive it. We must remember that many of these men served in the trenches for months and their health has been impaired to such an extent that their lives are being shortened by from five to ten years.

Employment Commission-Mr. Landeryou

I think that has been stated by the Hyndman commission, and medical authorities state that this is true.

I am not going to make any extended address, but I think every member of this committee will agree when I say that the returned soldier in Canada, and I think in every part of the British empire, has not tried to hold up his government. We have seen an example of a government being held up in another part of this continent, but Canadian returned soldiers, knowing the situation in this country, have tried to play the game with the country and the government in these times of stress. I feel satisfied that even though a new generation has come along that has forgotten the war and knows nothing about the hardships which the returned men had to endure, Canada and the government will remember these men who should be remembered.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I believe the majority of ex-service men in Canada will applaud the action of the minister in introducing the legislation forecast in these three resolutions. They will be particularly pleased with the legislation forecast in the resolution now before the committee, since it deals with a large class of ex-service men whose needs hitherto have been more or less neglected.

There is just one point regarding which I desire an explanation from the minister. Should the proposed commission recommend to the minister a project involving some public expenditure, let us say dealing with sheltered employment, will it be possible for the government to initiate that project without furher reference to parliament? I have in mind, as the minister will understand, the necessity of instituting early action with reference to the needs of the physically handicapped ex-service men whose problems may not be considered now under the Pension Act or the War Veterans' Allowance Act.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The matter to which the hon. member for Vancouver North refers is under consideration. It is quite evident that some moneys will be required to carry out some of these projects, and it is hoped that no great difficulty will be experienced in finding the money.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

May I ask also whether it is the intention of the minister to recommend that this bill be referred to the special committee?

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
Permalink
LIB
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

It has been my feeling ever since the days when the boys were 12739-107i

over in the trenches that the returned man has done his bit, and that he should not be called upon to suffer any more. I therefore desire to support the minister in his effort to improve the condition of the returned men. With all the good things we have done I do not believe we have really as yet done our duty by these men, and I should like to see many forward steps taken in this direction.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Power thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 28, providing for the establishment of the veterans' assistance commission.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   VETERANS' ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
Permalink

EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION

ADMINISTRATION OP UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE


The house resumed from Monday, March 30. consideration of the motion of Hon. Mr. Rogers for the second reading of Bill No. 14, respecting the establishment of a national employment commission.


SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. J. C. LANDERYOU (Calgary East):

The fact that the government recognizes unemployment as one of Canada's most urgent problems has given a measure of hope to millions of Canadians who are anxiously and impatiently waiting for a solution of that problem. The previous government promised to end unemployment or perish in the attempt. They all but perished in the last election, but they failed to solve the problem of unemployment. This government, if they continue to give stones to the people instead of bread, will also have these stones thrown back at them at the next election. If we attempt to deal with the problem of unemployment imagining that it is simply an emergency problem, we shall fail. We cannot solve it by attempting to provide work of a public nature for all the unemployed; the existing financial system will preclude that. Bankrupt municipalities and provincial governments forced to borrow in order to provide work for indigent citizens would add too great a burden to the taxpayers who to-day are barely able to meet their obligations, some being quite unable *o meet them. We have all seen public works in various parts of this country. I have in mind the erection of the barracks in Calgary at a cost of $1,250,000. There are over two thousand heads of families unemployed in that city. They were given an opportunity to work on

1678 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. Landeryou

this undertaking, each one being allowed possibly three to four weeks. The greatest part of their earnings was taken by the city to meet taxes on the property they happened to own, and when they had finished with this shift of three or four weeks they found themselves back on relief again little better off. The enormous cost of providing sufficient public work for all the unemployed would add to the burdens of the taxpayers of Canada to such an extent that it is absolutely impossible to conceive of any solution in that way.

I cannot too strongly condemn attaching the stigma of relief to over one million of our fellow citizens. These people are not responsible for the situation in which they find themselves. Scientists and inventors have struggled for years to give mankind more leisure and to free them from the burden of toil, but then we find that mankind, being freed from slavery to production, are enslaved to a financial system that condemns them to poverty and want in the midst of plenty. We have been told that it is better to give than to receive, but I find from reliable sources that the relief quotas paid in some parts of Canada are very, very small. I have before me the rate paid to relief recipients in the city of Hull. I find that a single person gets $1.25 a week for food and shelter, and a clothing allowance of $1.25 a month. A man and wife get $1 a week each for food and $1 a month each for clothing. A family .of three get $2.60 a week for food and $2.60 a month for clothing. A family of four get $3.20 a week for food and $3.20 a month for clothing. A child gets sixty cents a week for food and I imagine shares in the clothing allowance of the family. I ask hon. members: Is it not an insult to the intelligence of thinking men and women that these unfortunate people should have insult added to injury, and after being robbed of the right to live and enjoy a measure of equity and an opportunity to contribute something towards the upbuilding and development of Canada, should be given this mere pittance of relief?

We all know the story of the industrial revolution. We all know how science, invention and organization have contributed to production. I should like to quote a few paragraphs from a speech delivered in Ottawa to the Study Club by the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen. He said:

AVe are now in a power age, and the effect of this great, gigantic application of power has been not to assist the individual to do his daily work, but actually to take his place in countless numbers and occupy the posts which multitudes of human beings occupied before.

jMr. LatiHeryou.]

It is the effect of all this to which we have not been able to adjust ourselves, 'and in respect of which I do not see very much immediate prospect of adjustment along the lines which various nations are traversing now.

He goes on to point out that now a single turbine develops power that it would require nine million people to exert if the turbine were not there. He says also:

In brick manufacture 450 bricks per day was about the maximum of the individual, and it did not take such a big proportion of the world to supply the rest of mankind even at that rate. Now a single individual, by the help of a machine makes 400,000, a multiplication of almost a thousand.

There is just one other part to which I would like to draw attention:

World production went on amazingly, not only throughout the war but after, because of necessity, and individuals got money not only for their wages but for other things, money borrowed by the state, and it all added to the circulation of currency, and as a consequence we had what wre call prosperity. But during the ten years that succeeded, the volume of products of the human race increased by seventy per cent, and in that same ten years the number of men actually at work producing those products diminished, and diminished by a very severe percentage. And what went on up to 1929, the years succeeding the war, has gone on at an accelerated speed since. Times of depression have the effect of accentuating the necessity from an economic standpoint, and, therefore, the importance of machinery in production and power in production.

Many are coming to believe, as the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen now believes, that millions of men now living will never work again. Men are unemployed because at the present time we are able to produce and have produced sufficient without their services being necessary. In that case men are hungry and in want simply because we have an abundance of goods, and no wonder the poet put the situation in these words:

Have you ever been to crazy town And walked down looney pike?

There are the queerest people there,

You never saw the like.

They make so much of automobiles,

And foodstuffs, and such,

That thousands of them starve Because they make too much.

How true that is when we have the report that 5,600,000 automobiles were manufactured in 1929. There was a carry-over of 1,000,000 automobiles, and we find that there is a restriction in production of automobiles. We find factories closing down and men becoming unemployed, because when you restrict consumption production falls. Then, when you restrict production wages, salaries and commissions fall. And when you lessen the amount

MARCH 31, 1936 Jj! 1679

Employment Commission-Mr. Landeryou

of wages, salaries and commissions which come into the hands of those who contribute to the production of wealth, you have a restricted purchasing power reflected in restricted consumption. And the vicious circle goes on and on.

If we say that a man is unemployed because we are unable to provide sufficient work for him, and he is in want because we have not created sufficient out of our natural resources to provide enough for his needs, then the question may well be asked why we do not employ him in creating more. So from whatever angle we view the situation it is asinine. Many have contended that we are in an age of scarcity. I admit that we have artificial scarcity created by sabotage, restricted production and various other methods which have been brought into play. This artificial scarcity is created. Surely, however, we must realize that in Canada we have an abundance of natural resources. We have a great housing problem which has been discussed from time to time, and surely it cannot be said that we have any scarcity of labour. Yet the report of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) indicates that there are hundreds and hundreds of artisans unemployed. We have heard the statement that there are large tracts of timber in danger of going to waste. We have great transportation systems; we have mills and we have many unemployed people who would like to get out of the slums and into homes of their own. But no opportunity is given *hem to have purchasing power. And those vho have control of money or credit to-day, 2ven assuming that there is sufficient, are not prepared to invest their money in manufacturing, in lumbering or in building homes, for they know that the people who are in the slums and need homes have no purchasing power with which to acquire homes after they were built.

If we would analyze our economic system we would discover that the purpose of it is not simply to provide work. Work is a means to an end. It is true that its function is to produce and distribute the wealth of goods and services this country can produce. That is the true function of the system, not simply the providing of work. If we have substituted solar energy for human energy, machine power for man power and have deprived man of the means whereby he might live, surely we should find some way of adding to his purchasing power by directly paying him a dividend of some sort. If the machine has displaced him from labour then surely that should be done for him. I believe it must be apparent to any thinking man

that the displaced worker is entitled to some return from the machine which has taken away his labour.

May I suggest to the Minister of Labour that in view of the fact that thousands and thousands of the young men of Canada are denied the opportunity of entering into the economic life of the country and are denied the opportunity to help in its development, something should be done. Many of those young men are possibly better qualified than were their fathers to make their contribution towards the development of Canada, but they are denied the opportunity. We find men of fifty, fifty-five or sixty years out working, some of them doing the work of two or three men, while their young sons sit with their feet on their father's table, despondent, their morale becoming undermined and having very little hope for the future. If they have no opportunity to put their feet under the old man's table, they are forced out to relief camps at twenty cents a day.

I say that these young men must be given an opportunity. Graft, greed and corruption must be driven from the boundaries of Canada. We must get rid of disequilibrium in price structure. We must do away with price exploitation and with the great divergence in price levels of the primary producers in western Canada and the manufacturers of eastern Canada. We must do something to lower Canada's great private, municipal, provincial and federal debt, and we must bend our efforts towards reducing taxation so that the people may have more money to purchase goods and services. An opportunity must lie at the door of every man between the ages of twenty-one andi fifty to work not eight or ten but possibly six hours a day, and five days a week. But the opportunity must be given them to work for fair wages, and I suggest to the minister that if he investigates he would find it possible to-day to pension those who have reached the ages of fifty or fifty-five so that they could adequately maintain themselves and provide food, clothing, shelter and possibly a few of the luxuries. I believe that if people between the ages of twenty-one and fifty were working we could have a standard of living for all Canadian people possibly far superior to that which could have been given in 1843, in the days of Carlyle, even if every man, woman and child had been working.

In this country there are 1,250,000 unemployed who are suffering. We must recognize the situation and must not be content with offering sympathy. It is our duty to find

1680 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. Church

some way of restoring purchasing power to them, and if we cannot do it through the public works of the Minister of Labour, then what better way could we find than that of paying them possibly a national dividend sufficient to give them the purchasing power to live as they should live?

Topic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OP UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

Mr. Speaker, the motion before the chair is for the second reading of Bill No. 14, to establish a national employment commission. Unemployment is one of the most important problems remaining unsolved, and the mere fact that the government of the day proposes to appoint an employment commission illustrates the decay of parliament, the decline of the House of Commons and the adoption of some merry-go-round sort of commission which will lead nowhere and will create no jobs for Canadians, with the exception of the members of the big seven, their secretaries, and the like. I look upon this commission as a roving minstrel show, and perhaps they will blacken their faces, go round with tambo and bones, and give a regular Gilbert and Sullivan show. What is this commission going to mean to the poor people who are now on relief, especially in the district from which I come? What is it going to mean to the industrial workers who comprise fifty-three per cent of the workers of this country?

I entirely disagree with my colleague from Greenwood (Mr. Massey) if he hopes that this legislation will get any jobs for Canadians in his riding. If he had been in the house as long as I have, he would have learned to expect little from the policies of this government, and that jobs do not come from promises. It is all right to put your name down on a list, but it is just as easy for the minister to wipe it off with a sponge.

This is the second reading of the bill, and on the second reading we are at liberty to discuss all the principles involved in this measure, but we cannot discuss the details of the bill, section by section. I wish to discuss the principle of this bill in many phases. I entirely disagree with my hon. friend from Greenwood if he thinks that the youth of Canada will find any jobs from the employment of any commission such as this. We seem to be heading for a commission government. We have nineteen or twenty commissions now administering the affairs of Canada, and nine provincial legislatures, and municipal and federal authorities, all to govern a population of only 11,000.000 people.

The government cannot pull the country out of the mire by itself. In this problem of

[Mr. Landeryou.J

unemployment it needs the support of all classes of the community, of the church, of industry and commerce. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) told a deputation from the municipalities of this country the other day that this commission was going to get the facts. Well, the unemployed have the facts already. When you see a red flag outside your door and a bailiff inside with a chattel mortgage on the furniture, you have all the facts you want, and if the unemployed are going to wait for this commission to get them jobs, they will all be dead first, and he undertaker will have to be called in.

I am entirely at a loss to know how this bill can solve unemployment in spite of the metaphysical language used by the Minister of Labour yesterday. He advises the unemployed to read Carlyle. Might I remind the minister of that famous saying, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.' His superior in office wrote a book once called Industry and Humanity, dealing with unemployment, but you can never succeed in getting a job for anyone with that type of book. Carlyle is a long time dead, and by the time this commission is dead the government will be dead too.

I would call to my support the writings of a great Englishman, Edmund Burke. He was as a matter of fact, an Irishman who in his address to the sheriffs of Bristol in 1774 said government was a practical thing, not something to please the fancy or imagination of ordinary politicians. If the minister wants to know something practical about the unemployed, I would ask him to come down to Queens' Park on May 1, when he will see a gathering of 5,000 unemployed, and I should like to hear him tell them to read Carlyle as a cure for unemployment. In my opinion, the remedy for unemployment will have to be as drastic as the application of conscription in this country was during the war. Sacrifice is the only cure for unemployment, together with a right application of the doctrine of protection. The unemployment problem calls for wide national sacrifice, not for citations from Carlyle and other dead authors, or for parliamentary repartee or commissions and that kind of thing.

I was very much disappointed when the Minister of Labour announced the policy of the government a short time ago, and if that is the best policy the government has to offer on unemployment, and the minister is the best cabinet timber that the government has, then the sooner the government get a

Questions

new forestation policy the better, if we are ever going to solve this problem of unemployment.

We are now at the end of the third month of the year, and this motion of the minister's m:ght far better have been made to-morrow, April 1. This is not going to fool the unemployed. Not long ago I asked a question of the government: Have they any plans for providing useful employment for the great body of unemployed, and, if so, what are they? We were told that the government had nothing for the unemployed in the shape of housing and reconstruction work. We are spending 8100,000,000 on relief through federal, provincial and municipal governments, and if we would undertake a housing program which would provide useful employment, not only in clearing up slums but in building much needed houses, we could save a great deal of the money that is now being spent on relief.

What policies have we had from this government to cure unemployment? We have had the ambassador policy, that great basic industry of sending ambassadors all over the seven seas to represent the Dominion of Canada, this dominion which has not a rowboat to protect its shores in case of war. Then we had another policy proposed for curing unemployment, that of appointing parliamentary undersecretaries, and now we have this commission cure for unemployment.

On motion of Mr. Church the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OP UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Permalink

At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, April 1, 1936


March 31, 1936