April 1, 1936

LIB

Joseph-Fernand Fafard

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Fafard):

The hon. member has spoken for forty minutes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. R. MacNICOL (Davenport):

Mr. Speaker, after a careful rereading of Bill No. 14, which, I admit frankly, was prepared with the best hopes of providing employment for the unemployed, and after rereading the minister's speech on moving second reading I regret that I find very little, if anything, which could give reasonably prompt realization to the hopes of thousands of unemployed looking for jobs. I am afraid the unemployed have looked for too much from the academic experience of the minister. Theories are all right, perhaps, when propounded behind the ivy clad walls of some scholastic hall, but a problem such as this requires much more than theories. It requires a lot of vigour, action and practical knowledge to take care of employment, in times such as these.

The needs of the unemployed are so great that I only wish I could say something to encourage the minister in the belief that his proposal to form a commission will be a panacea for the difficulties of the unemployed. I regret that I cannot do this. For a few moments I should like to deal with a few of the statements made by other hon. members, but unless time permits I shall confine my observations to some statements of the minister.

The minister's speech made some days ago I have boiled down to four main statements: (a) that the lowest index of unemployment was at March 1, 1933, when it stood at 76-9 per

1726 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. MacNicol

cent as compared with the 1926 index, taken at 100; (b) that improvement from March 1, 1933, to March 1, 1936, rose to 98 per cent plus, or an improvement of 28J per cent; (c) that the problem is still critical and acute, and (d) that a national employment commission is in the opinion of the minister, and perhaps in that of the government too, the way out of the impasse in which the country now finds itself.

I should like to divide (d) into four separate headings: (1) that through the commission it is expected that the originating of employment will take place by offering in a large measure advice and plans to industry; (2) the planning of long-range measures; (3) the registering and tabulation of unemployed, and (4) the elimination of certain companies or shops which give unfair and excessively low wages.

Dealing first with division (d), namely the hope that the commission, committee or council may do effective work, may I say that under this division we find nothing new. Many years ago Bismarck made the same suggestion, and when the present German constitution was framed at Weimar in 1919 a clause of the constitution enacts just that. It did not last long. They established a committee, council or commission of 326 members covering all classes of business, labour, financial and other classes of which the German nation is formed. But it was found unsatisfactory. The excessive cost, the duplication and the delay made it impossible of action.

Other European states followed in the path of Germany. Poland, Spain, Portugal and France all tried out similar plans and each one discarded the plan as top-heavy, costly, slow and ineffective. Under its referendum No. 58 the United States prepared a somewhat similar plan which has since been abandoned. Great Britain, however, did not adopt that procedure. Under its Department of Labour Great Britain was divided into seven employment districts, which in turn were divided into 1,128 subdistricts, and I believe through their plan they have accomplished something. At least they are in touch with the situation in all parts of the country, and have been making an honest effort to transfer unwanted labour in one part of the country to meet the labour requirements in another. May I tell the minister and through him the government that to-day we have heard a lot about industry. I was connected with industry for many years, but I shall not attempt to reply to the statements which have been made. After all, in many respects it is like other vocations. If you are going to be a medical practitioner you must know something about

medical practice. If you are going to be a lawyer you must know something about law. There are too many who think they know all about industry, but who actually know little whatever about it. To-day industry has been throttled and crucified by the overwhelming cost of government in Canada. What have we? We have one federal government, nine provincial governments, four thousand municipal governments and twenty-four thousand boards of education. Each one inflicts taxation upon industry, and upon everything else which goes to make up business in Canada.

In addition to this tremendous and terrific overhead of cost it is proposed to add another commission. To what? To the fifty-eight commissions which we already have. The other day when on the introduction of the bill I said that the country was being commissioned to death, and overgoverned to death, I received many letters from all parts of the country asking me when I spoke again to give the list of commissions, and I now propose to do that. Although some of these may not amount to much, there are at present thirteen federal commissions as follows:

International Joint Commission,

Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada, Board of Grain Commissioners,

National Research Council,

Federal District Commission,

Canadian Farm Loan Board,

Tariff Board,

Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, Dominion Marketing Board,

The Canadian Wheat Board,

The Civil Service Commission,

The War Graves Commission,

Historic Monuments Commission.

At the present session the government proposes, I believe, several additional commissions. Then, the commissions in the provinces are as follows:

Alberta

Public Utilities Commission,

Workmen's Compensation Board,

Minimum Wage Board.

British Columbia Board of Industrial Relations,

Workmen's Compensation Board.

Manitoba

Workmen's Compensation Commission, Minimum W7age Board,

Manitoba Liquor Commission,

Municipal and Public Utility Board, Industrial Development Board of Manitoba, Law Enforcement Copamission.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Electric Power Commission, New Brunswick Public Utilities Commission, _

New Brunswick Workmen's Compensation Board,

Liquor Control Board,

New Brunswick Fire Prevention Board.

Employment Commission-Mr. MacNicol

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Power Commission.

Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, Nova Scotia Liquor Commission.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

May I point out to the

hon. member-

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Would the hon. member ask his question later.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

-that some of those are

private boards.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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LIB

William Henry Moore

Liberal

Mr. MOORE:

I am extremely interested in what the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) is saying, and very largely in agreement with him, but I am just wondering, when he gave us the list of commissions that had been formed, why he did not include the marketing board.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

He did.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

If I did not it was an oversight. I thought I did.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He did. He mentioned it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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LIB

William Henry Moore

Liberal

Mr. MOORE:

May I ask the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) whether he is in favour of the marketing board?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. NORMAN JAQUES (Wetaskiwin):

Mr. Speaker, I intend to support this bill in the hope that some good will come of it. It is said that unemployment is Canada's greatest problem, but I submit that our greatest problem is the abolition of poverty, and that is mainly a question of finance. Control of credit means control of money; control of money means control of prices; the control of prices means control of profits and profits control wages and salaries. To abolish poverty we need to consume to the limits of our desires or our powers to produce. Is this financially possible? I submit that it is, because it was possible during the war. If it was possible during the war it is possible in times of peace.

Is it financially desirable? I submit that that is a question for the people of Canada to decide. The people demand an end to the scandal of poverty in the midst of plenty. If the financier will do his part the people will do theirs; if the financier will not do his part, or if he says he cannot, then he must be replaced by those who can and will. That is the duty of the government of Canada.

Mr. A. J. LAPOINTE (Matapedia-Ma-tane); Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words in English before continuing in French, on the first occasion that I have an opportunity to speak in this house. As a

1732 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. Lapointe (Matane)

new member I realize it takes courage to address this chamber, but as I have been told that the experienced members are very indulgent to newcomers, I feel more at ease.

First, I wish to commend the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) for the great speech he made the other day in moving the second reading of the bill to create a national employment commission. Although I quite agree that already we have too many commissions, I sincerely believe that this commission will be of great benefit to our country.

We have often been told in this house that the Canadian people placed great confidence in the Liberal party at the last general election. This is true; we quite realize it, and we want to prove that we are worthy of such confidence, to show that we are ready and willing to face the situation, difficult as it is, and to do our utmost to bring back prosperity and happiness in the numerous homes darkened so long with the shadow of unemployment, suffering and distress. I know that the task is not an easy one, but we must show that the faith of our country in this government is going to be justified during the next five years.

(Translation): Mr. Speaker, I now wish to contiue my observations in the French language.

More than six years ago, at a time when the present crisis began to sap the economical structure of the world, no one could have foreseen that to-day we would still be confronted with the same difficulties and endeavouring to solve the same vexing problems. It is obvious that the situation remains most uncertain. After more than six years of waiting, thousands and thousands of men still go out in search of employment only to return, disappointed, weary and almost desperate, to homes without food and children half naked.

I do not propose to indulge in mere declamation. I know full well that I am repeating what others have often said before me in this house, but if I emphasize the point it is because I realize the heavy responsibility weighing on the shoulders of every member of the house, and in particular, of every member of the government.

Such a sad state of affairs should not be allowed to last indefinitely. The time is past for groping policies or palliatives. The Canadian people are looking to us; in the last election, they entrusted us with a duty to fulfill, a duty which calls for firm action on our part. This reminds me of the words of a great philosopher and saint: "In order to remain honest and to be virtuous man must enjoy a certain degree of comfort and con-

tentment. . ." Then, how can one refrain from anxiety and alarm at the sight of the large number of unfortunate people who are denied even the necessaries of life.

Mr. Speaker, only a few months ago, I was simply a village stationmaster. When I was about to enter the political arena, my employer-who incidentally is well known by the right honourable Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King)-intimated that I had to choose between my position and politics. I am the father of six children, but I chose what I deemed to be my duty. I was dismissed, and had I not been elected in my constituency, I would now be one of the unemployed.

I have always led the simple life of the common people, whose hardships and whose sentiments I know well. I know that, even now as I am speaking, thousands of my constituents are suffering in silence and expecting this government to do something to alleviate the distress they have suffered too long. I feel that I would be remiss in my duty, that I would be neglecting to fulfill the mandate entrusted to me by my electors if I did not call the government's attention to the sad plight of my constituency.

The population which it is my privilege to represent in this house is largely made up of farmers, settlers, fishermen and workmen. Their distress is worse than is generally believed. Direct relief is practically non existent there; the municipalities being too poor to bear the cost of relief, the destitute must be content with public charity.

Numerous farmers, after clearing their lands and toiling arduously in the hope of leaving their farm some day to their children and peacefully ending their days with them are now threatened with bankruptcy. Farm produce, which in recent years was abundant, could not find a market. Potatoes have sold as low as 8 or 10 cents a bushel, And yet, this was the commodity on which the farmer depended to pay his taxes and his chief expenses. This year, prices are slightly higher, but the crop is short.

Many farmers have applied to the Canadian Farm Loan Board for a loan that might have saved them from ruin, but in nearly every case, the application was refused without any valid reason. I know that in many cases the applicant was too much of a Liberal in the eyes of the appraiser who himself happened to be a staunch Tory, However to-day, with the board constituted as it is, I am confident that they will be actuated by fairness rather than by political considerations.

Employment Commission-Mr. Lapointe (Matane)

Conditions among our workers, are not any brighter. Lumbering is the main industry in my constituency. In too many cases the men are at the mercy of their employers. I could cite a number of instances. Before action was taken by the provincial government, these unfortunate people had to toil from five o'clock in the morning to seven in the evening at a most arduous task for wages ranging from 40 cents to 80 cents a day.

Although conditions fiave somewhat improved since, they are still far from satisfactory. The employees of a certain sawmill, having made an attempt at organizing themselves into a trade union, were dismissed. I admit that they were reinstated, but the result was that such action dampened their enthusiasm and caused them to be on their guard. Well, Mr. Speaker, I must protest, with all my might, against such methods on the part of employers who, taking advantage of the distress prevailing among their men, are dealing with them in a most unfair manner and assuming the part of dictators.

I also wish to taire the opportunity, in my first address to this house, to register my protest against high salaries. At a time when so many people are starving, at a time when distress prevails in so many homes, I can scarcely conceive why some companies should pay to their favoured officials salaries altogether out of proportion with the meagre wages paid to their lower employees. I can still less imagine why employers should reduce the wages of their men in order to make it possible to pay fabulous salaries to themselves. Such tactics can only result in creating discontent and hatred among the working classes and paving the way to communism in this country.

I have no intention whatever of discussing communism in the course of this address; I simply wish to draw the attention of the government to the vile campaign carried on by the communists in this country. I know that the main objective of that campaign is to make this country a godless one. I shall have an opportunity of referring again to that question of communism, possibly in the course of the present session.

It being the duty of the state to extend equal protection to all classes of the population, I feel confident that our governments, both federal and provincial, will take the necessary steps to suppress such injustices practiced against our workers.

I also wish to join with those speakers who drew the attention of the government to the serious problem of youth, of our eager and vigourous young people who seek the opportunity to put their energy to work, but must perforce remain inactive. They lose all hope

as they see the best years of their life wasted away, years which they had intended to be so fruitful in achievement.

If I may be permitted, I shall submit to the government a suggestion which, if adopted, would largely solve the unemployment problem, especially in connection with the youth of my district. I have in mind the opening up to colonization of the vast plateau in the Gaspe peninsula, covering an area of over 10,000 square miles. Not only is it rich in minerals, but it is also covered with virgin forest and a soil of great richness. This splendid region is dotted with beautiful lakes and watered by magnificent rivers; in short it is a real paradise. Yet, the district is closed to settlement, owing to the lack of means of communication. The building of a railway was planned many years ago; why has the project not been carried out? The reason lies in the fact that it is intended to set that area aside as a reserve to be handed at a later date, as a gift to some outside concern which would hold our own people in a mercenary state while the best positions would go to their friends, as unfortunately it has been too often the case in our province.

Some may say that it is idle to think of building new railway lines, when the existing lines have become too great a burden. It may be so, but why? Too many lines have been built in certain districts and certain provinces and not enough in others. According to my information, had the province of Quebec been given the same consideration as was given to certain other provinces, it would now have over $500,000,000 worth of additional railway facilities. Therefore, I trust this government will not be deterred by a sense of false economy but will give their most serious consideration to the paramount question of developing the Gaspe region, the first soil trodden by the great discoverer, Jacques Cartier. This vast region only awaits the building of a railway to absorb the surplus of our population and the young people referred to a moment ago. Our young men would find there a splendid field of action in which to display their energy and put to useful work their strong arms which have remained so long inactive.

In my opinion, if the late government, instead of spending large sums of money in direct relief, wasting millions of dollars to no purpose, and spoiling our people in accustoming them to rely on the state for a livelihood, had undertaken such work as the building of the Gaspe railway, they would have achieved something useful and really worked in the best interest of the country.

1734 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. Lapointe (Matane)

At a time when the back-to-the-land movement is advocated throughout the country as the best means of alleviating unemployment; when in Italy Mussolini has expended billions in draining marshes and irrigating vast plains in order to compel his people to take up farming and thereby solve to a large extent the unemployment problem, why should not our government, in cooperation with the provincial governments, shape their policy so as to facilitate a sound back-to-the-land movement. We cannot hope for an improvement of present conditions if we constantly apply the same remedies for the ills from which we are suffering. After having so long proclaimed that Canada is one of the world's richest countries in natural resources, the time has come, I think, to develop these vast and rich resources.

We are passing through a most tragic period. In spite of our unlimited resources, in spite of recent scientific discoveries, which could be so useful to us, our lot has never been worse. The reason is that we are living in an age of selfishness, conceit and envy, and I believe that so long as justice and Christian charity shall not have reassumed their proper place in the world, we cannot expect order, peace and happiness to reign.

In concluding, Sir, may I state that I have full confidence in the Liberal party. I firmly believe in the sense of fairness and justice of its leaders; I have great faith in the Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) who, I know, is endowed with the great qualities that make for real statesmanship. The other day, as he was conversing with me in a simple and friendly way, I could not but feel impressed. It recalled to my mind certain incidents in my last electoral campaign, which was perhaps one of the most hardest and worst contests waged in the country, considering my meagre resources as compared with those of my opponents, and at the same time I could hardly help being amused when recalling some of their statements. "What can you expect a little fellow like Lapointe to do in parliament at Ottawa? He surely would be relegated in some corner I" Well, why did I come to this parliament? I came here to discharge my duty and serve my country to the best of my ability. Instead of being relegated in an out-of-the-way place, I was given a seat close to you, Mr. Speaker, while at my side, sir, two gallant soldiers who defeated two ministers in the last electoral contest. I wish to thank sincerely those to whom I owe such an honour.

In closing my remarks, I also wish to express my appreciation to this house for the kind attention and sympathy extended to a recruit undergoing his baptism of fire.

Mr. NORMAN J. M. LOCKHART (Lincoln) : Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention tonight to deal at length with the bill before the house, but I do desire to make a few specific references. I believe there is no necessity to go into statistical detail so ably covered this afternoon by the hon. member for Van-couver-Burrard (Mr. McGeer). In a comprehensive manner he reviewed the statistical effect that the unemployment condition has had on Canada as a nation. Hon. members will recall that the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) tabled information which should convince the house of the necessity for the government to deal with the relief situation in a most effective manner.

A few days ago considerable time was spent reviewing subsidies granted steamship companies on the Pacific coast. All hon. members listened with interest to the careful and comprehensive review of the situation. Large sums of money were awarded, and the matter was dealt with effectively. Then we passed on to a discussion of legislation providing ways and means to assist western wheat producers and to stabilize prices for the 1930 crop. Again millions of dollars were involved, and possibly for a very good cause.

To-day, however, we pass on to a definite consideration of something which in my opinion is vastly more important than a discussion of any o

May I refer briefly to a situation which developed in Canada during the regime of the Liberal party when it held office prior to 1930. During that time there developed one of the greatest financial crashes Canada has ever experienced; we all remember the effects of it. Out of those days came many serious complications. Hon. members who sat in the government of that day must be fully cognizant of all the circumstances leading up to that time. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) was then in office, and

Employment Commission-Mr. Lockhart

had much to do with events that led up to that calamity. Following 1930 the Liberal party were in opposition for five years, and during that period observed and criticized the efforts of the Conservative government of that day. During that time they must have kept pace with all the trying conditions that the Conservative government was faced with during the five years it held office. The Liberal opposition must have observed that there was a slow but apparent improvement in general economic conditions in Canada.

Then, last October the Liberal party was again swept into power. Those of us who were engaged in the campaign do not forget the many slogans displayed throughout the length and breadth of the land, and on more than one occasion reference has been made to them in this chamber. We remember one which read: "Vote Liberal and- do away

with unemployment." Surely the Liberal party w'ere sincere when they invited the Canadian people to support their claims to end unemployment. I want to refer particularly to one or two groups of Canadians to whom this appeal was made. It was made to a vast number of our middle-aged and older Canadian citizens, with many of whom I had personal contact. No doubt other hon. members experienced this same contact with people who were in dire difficulties. We saw the younger men and women who, as their positions became increasingly alarming, became desperate. They were disillusioned by the promise made by the Liberal party and they now find their problems are to be referred to a commission with powers to investigate.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
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LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

Mr. GOLDING:

That was the promise.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
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Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CON

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LOCKHART:

Such is the proposal before this chamber. There are two groups of people to whom I might specifically refer, who have suffered as much as any people in Canada. I am referring to a large number of home owners, and the younger generation who have been fostered by those home owners. Fathers and mothers have felt a definite responsibility for this younger generation. Those of us who served in municipal office know that in the urban centres, where we are told over fifty per cent of the people have accumulated, mortgages carrying seven per cent interest were drawn. We know how homes have been partly paid for, and how in many instances, these homes more than half paid for, have slipped out of the hands of the original owners. That has been the experience of men who have had close contact with municipal life for the last few years.

We have spoken much about the sanctity of the home. The pens of illustrious writers have long portrayed the fact that Canada has stood foremost in the sanctity of its homes. Our nation as a whole has accepted this as one of our high ideals. The younger generation, the young men and young women have had this idea instilled into their minds in the home, in the day school, in the Sunday school and on every side. How often have we heard men boasting of the growth of their municipality and pointing with pride to the number of homes individually owned in their community? With what pride have they pointed to that accomplishment in urban centres particularly! How long is it going to take the present government to realize that thousands and thousands of these homes are daily passing out of the hands of their present owners? How long is it going to be before they realize the valiant struggles that these home owners, these fathers and mothers have made to hold their homes together to take care of the young people for whom they are responsible? Who will dispute the logic of the appeal made by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) a day or so ago in this house? The government, in reply to his resolution on behalf of the youth of Canada, consented to study the situation of youth, and possibly the question will be referred for study to the commission that is to be appointed under this bill. But how much longer, I ask, are Canadians going to be satisfied simply with having these matters studied further? The question to-day is: When are w'e going to get any action in this matter? To appoint a commission is merely to defer any definite action, and to have instead a continued review of conditions that are so apparent to everyone in this country and that have been for so many years.

I wonder how many members of this house have sensed the mental attitude of the thousands of our people who are being dispossessed of their property, and trying through it all to maintain their high ideals as Canadian citizens. I wonder how many in this house have noticed the morale and the mental attitude of the younger generation living within those homes, scarcely knowing when work will be coming to them and watching their fathers and mothers trying to struggle through their great difficulties. I ask this house in all sincerity: Have we not already had sufficient evidence of this tragedy in the last few years without making a further study of the situation? Surely the government today must be convinced of the facts.

On every side in political life we hear: Appoint a commission for this; appoint a

1736 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. Lockhart

commission for that. Surely Canada has had about enough commissions delving into many problems. We have all observed, and particularly in the last year or so, the results of investigating committees and commissions. Where have they all led? What have they meant to the taxpayer? What have they meant to the struggling home owners who are trying to hold on to their homes? Whose are the pockets that are bulging with the money derived from these investigations and commissions? I pause to think for a moment of some that we have had in the city of Toronto just recently. With all the opportunities that the present government have had in the long years they were in power before 1930, with the observations they were able to make when out of power, and again since they came into power in October, 1935, and with all the information that is already in the hands of the Minister of Labour, surely we do not need at this time to appoint another commission to impress upon us conditions as they exist in 1936. Of course the government know the facts, but yet this legislation is presented to the house to-day, and for what purpose? Further investigation, I repeat, to intensify the present mental attitude of those groups to whom I have referred, the mental attitude of the struggling men and women and of our despairing youth, the nation of tomorrow. They are getting desperate and will become still more so in the months that must elapse before this commission can do anything to relieve even their mental anxiety. More commissions will spend more money, and will obtain probably just a little more information than what the government already have at their disposal.

Did this government when appealing to the people on October 14 last say to those home owners and to that vast horde of unemployed: Elect us and we will appoint a commission further to investigate your difficulties? No. They said: Vote Liberal and end unemployment. That is the trust that has been passed on to this government by the people of Canada, and I challenge the government to shoulder their responsibility and not shelve it on to a commission, to review again what has already been reviewed over and over again. I urge the government to accept the responsibility for which they asked. The people have appealed to them in their desperation. Why try to get out from under at this time?

It was very interesting to hear the Minister of Labour quote Carlyle and his theories in the house a day or so ago, but Carlyle and his theories will not help the suffering people in Canada in 1936. Some hon. member remarked

that Carlyle was dead. Yes, Carlyle is dead and gone, and his theories have gone with him. They do not apply in 1936. This government must wake up and realize the situation that confronts us to-day, now, not a year from now. Two months of this parliament have already elapsed without action being taken on the unemployment problem, and now we are asked by this bill to appoint another commission. I say: No, Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to appointing a commission to deal with this vital question. I lay the whole problem on the doorstep of the government who, I repeat, asked for this responsibility on election day last year. They have had plenty of time to take action long before this. They have had plenty of opportunity to know what the people need. They need more work and fair pay. That is what the people are asking for, and it does not require an investigating commission to find that out. I again challenge the government to meet this responsibility to-day, not to delay this problem any longer, not to pass the responsibility on to somebody else whom they may be able to hide behind and who will consume months to find out what the government must know now. I challenge them to accept this responsibility. They asked for it, and it has been entrusted to them by the people of Canada. I appeal to the government at once to move to protect the high ideals of Canadian home owners, Canadian youth and Canadian citizenship as we have built up a standard second to none in the world to-day.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. C. G. MacNEIL (Vancouver North):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that all members of this house are indebted to the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) for his very clear and comprehensive presentation of this problem in all its dimensions. None of us would question the obvious sincerity of his desire to grapple with this problem and relieve in some degree the distress of those now suffering from unemployment. For that very reason it is to be regretted that, apparently in a desire to conform to the general policy of the government, he did not follow through, for in his presentation of this bill he did not disclose any reference to a plan that might adequately meet the pressing and immediate requirements of the situation. Many of us have been anxiously awaiting since the opening of parliament an announcement of the government's policy with reference to this great problem. We agree with the minister that it is of paramount importance, and I assume that in the legislation now before the house we have a more or less accurate outline of government policy; I refer to the present bill, the companion bill, and the

Employment Commission[DOT]-Mr. MacNeil

Canada-United States trade agreement. I submit that all these bills add up to exactly nothing in the way of definite and decisive action to relieve the present distress of those now unemployed and on relief.

The legislation of itself is commendable. It is necessary to have a scientific survey of the unemployment problem in Canada. There can be no doubt that it should be scientifically dealt with; it should be, as the minister has stated, resolved into its elements. We must have a continuation of certain measures, such as are proposed in the companion bill, designed to relieve people unemployed through no fault of their own. I could not possibly oppose the Canada-United States trade agreement, because in freer trade there may be some possibility of stimulus of our national industrial activity. But surely the most incurable optimist would not suggest that the trade recovery that may be accomplished as a result of our trade agreement will in any appreciable degree reduce unemployment. We know from experience that industrial recovery as accomplished under conditions today does not spell any effective decrease in unemployment, largely because of technological displacement of labour in industry. I say that all these bills-the entire policy-add up to exactly nothing in the way of relieving immediately the distress of those now unemployed.

The minister developed the scientific or engineering approach to this question. This is necessary at the present time. But he developed nothing but an approach, and it is clear to many of us that more than an approach is imperatively necessary now. I think the responsibility rests definitely upon the government at this time to take a bold and courageous course of action that will ease the burden resting upon so many of our people. The minister, in the position he has taken, resembles an engineer who proposes to deal with an emergency by means of a brand new engineering plan but who forgets that such a plan may be utterly useless at the same time immediate steps are taken to repair or stop the social dykes that are being carried away or threatened. Flood control engineers first repair the dykes and then proceed with the long-range plans that are necessary, and as matters stand to-day social dykes are being carried away or threatened because of the tragic consequences of unemployment in the proportions known in our country.

The minister proved, I think clearly and definitely, that past methods have failed. It is therefore all the more to be regretted

that he proposes to continue with these methods until a complete survey has been made. Such a survey will take time. I admit that it is necessary, but if it is done thoroughly it will take considerable time. He has proven also that unemployment has persistent characteristics; that in Canada it is now assuming a more or less permanent character. We have what might be described as residual unemployment, which will not readily yield to the methods that have hitherto been applied. The minister also asserted that in matters of public expenditure parliamentary control must be reasserted. All of these three features-the fact that a survey will take time; the fact that unemployment, as statistics will bear out, is persistent and is not decreasing in any appreciable degree, and the fact that the government intends that parliament shall exercise direct supervision over any major expenditure-inevitably spell delay. I submit that the pronouncement of policy as made by the minister the other day condemns those now on relief to the sentence of at least another year on relief, a sentence that I am sure will be received by the unemployed with bitter disappointment and black despair.

In his remarks the minister brushed aside the idea of any fundamental social change. I assume he meant by that that nothing should be done to molest private enterprise or unrestricted competition for profit. He said that no magic formula, no simple formula will work out a solution of this problem. I am inclined to agree. I would never argue that the problem may yield to any simple or magic formula. Carlyle was quoted in justification. I know his quotation has been referred to several times, but may I ask who was it that told in memorable language the fate of those who laughed at the man who wrote the Social Contract? He said that the second edition of that work was bound in the hides of those who laughed at its author. If I remember correctly, Carlyle also questioned the outcome of the industrial revolution in its early days unless we make the machine our servant instead of our master. And since he has referred us to the lessons of history, we may find many striking warnings as to the outlook that should be acquired with respect to our policies for problems of this kind.

Chesterfield said a generation before the French revolution:

I find here in the French nation all the symptoms that history has taught me precede great social upheavals.

And he was laughed to scorn in his day. Another eminent philosopher said, and his

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saying is apt, in the consideration of the minister's political philosophy:

Justice is a power, and if it cannot create it will destroy. So that the question for the future is not, shall there be a revolution, but shall it be beneficent or disastrous?

That applies, I think, definitely to the situation confronting us to-day. If any lesson is to be learned from history it is surely this, that we should learn to adapt our social and economic policies to meet the changing and imperative requirements of a changing material environment.

There is one test which, I think, should be applied to the unemployment policy as outlined by the minister. If we could assemble in one audience all those who are unemployed and on relief in Canada to-day, and arrange for that audience to hear the minister's remarks, I am quite certain that the unemployed would not be satisfied, and would not find any reassurance or comfort in the statement made by him the other day, for the reason that it does not indicate any immediate alleviation of their distress. They already know the gravity of the situation; they know that it ruins their lives, wrecks their homes, destroys their future; and they desire above everything else those conditions that will establish for them without delay independence and security, and the chance to maintain their homes and their health.

Some may argue: Why should any attempt be made to satisfy the unemployed? Some contend that the unemployed are merely the misfits, the weaklings, those who have been unable to survive the strenuous competition of our day. I repeat: the misfortunes of unemployment have overtaken people in all walks of life-those in the professions as well as those in the skilled trades, clerical as well as manual workers-and these misfortunes have overtaken them in spite of industry and thrift. Sometimes when these remarks are made I think of many instances with which I am personally acquainted of men whose record of industry and thrift cannot be questioned and who, in spite of their industry and thrift in the past, now find their all being swept away under present conditions.

A striking case was brought to my attention of a man who served in the Australian forces in the great war. He was encouraged to settle in Canada under the empire settlement scheme and he came with his family and the savings of a lifetime amounting to $5,000. Under the auspices of the land settlement board he attempted to .establish himself in British Columbia. Years went by and he was unable to retain his foothold and in a desperate effort he sent his family to relatives in Aus-

tralia and attempted to carry on alone, but finally he was compelled to abandon his holding, to return it to the board and to seek employment. His lifetime savings had been swept away. He was a man accustomed to pioneering conditions, anxious to work under pioneering conditions, a man of exemplary thrift and industry. He tried work in logging camps; he did chores for his board; he did everything possible, and finally the only answer given him when he sought aid from the authorities was that he must go to a relief camp. This is one of countless instances that demonstrate that the unemployed are not merely the misfits. The great majority are people with excellent work records; thousands of them have led exemplary lives of industry and thrift. They are not merely the misfits and the weaklings. As I say, misfortune has overtaken them through no fault of their own, and industry and thrift have been no protection in the circumstances of the present crisis. The unemployed on relief, though fenced off in a separate world, are definitely a cross-section of the working community, and this cross-section includes important and skilled labour power now scrapped though urgently required for necessary development work in the country.

The minister defined what in his opinion was the function of the state. He said that it is the function of the state to promote the welfare of all its members. I think he could have carried his definition a step further. The government is not the state but exercises the authority of the state within certain defined limits. The state is the sum of all those within it, and that includes the unemployed on relief; it includes all those who in their way of living conform to the rules of social behaviour, as defined, in order to achieve the purposes of the state. Men accept the state not merely because it is the state, but because of the satisfactions they hope to secure from life through common cooperation as expressed by the state. To its citizens the state is what it does. They are mainly concerned with the consequences or results of policies enforced by the state. They are not so much concerned with intentions. Good intentions alone will not make for good statesmanship; and largely because of this feature, the unemployed, assembled in that audience which I suggest, would not find any comfort in the policy outlined by the minister in introducing the bill. I suggest that the function of the state is to fulfil to the maximum possible the desires of all its citizens and to accomplish this with the greatest measure of equality attainable. If there is inequality, as we find there is to-day, or if any large section is

Employment Commission-Mr. MacNeil

denied the satisfactions it has a right to expect as a result of the processes of the state, such must be justified by rational argument. It is the accepted theory of government that such inequality must be justified on the ground that it is in the interests of the state as a whole, of the entire people ; otherwise the action of the state is biased; it operates in favour of one section and discriminates against another.

The unemployed, in conforming to the rules of behaviour prescribed by the state, are at present denied the satisfactions they have a right to expect from the way of living which we determine. They are now asked to continue enduring the miseries of unemployment, and this is done in the name of the state and presumably on the ground that it is for the stability of the state that they should acquiesce in this continuance of their misery. Otherwise, if they question this argument, if they protest, being unconvinced, we may expect that the coercive authority of the state may be exercised to repress their discontent or any disorder arising therefrom. Under the theory of government advanced by the minister, inasmuch as he expressed opposition to any fundamental change in the rules of social behaviour, the responsibility rests upon him to demonstrate that his policy is in the interests of the stability of our society as a whole. Failing this, he must either force acceptance of the dictum of the government or admit the inevitability of changes in the direction of a greater measure of equality.

In my opinion the action of the government on this occasion is biased and does not make for stability, because it deals with the security of some and not of all. It cannot be shown that failure to deal promptly and decisively with the problem of unemployment contributes in any degree to the general security. Temporary security of the few is of very little value in the face of the insecurity of the many.

In this connection, Mr. Speaker, I attach some significance to the fact that in the main estimates now before the house there is a definite increase in the appropriations for the Department of National Defence, an increase amounting to, I think, something like $1,700,000 including the cost of construction of armouries. A statement has been made by a former Minister of National Defence- and we have had no announcement from the present administration repudiating the view then expressed-to the effect that this military establishment is necessary in Canada to cope with the possibility of civil disturbance. This is confirmed by the remarks made recently, on frequent occasions, by one of the 12739-ill

district officers commanding, Brigadier-General Alexander. Since he has made similar statements frequently, I think we may assume that they are countenanced in some degree at least by the government. Speaking in Len-noxville on March 26, he said:

That communism constituted a menace to Canada and that it was spreading so rapidly and assuming such serious proportions that military assistance might be needed soon by civil authorities in many parts of Canada to cope with the situation was the contention of Brigadier-General R. O. Alexander, D.S.O., officer commanding M.D. No. i.

Again he said:

"We must not blind ourselves, however, to the serious situation arising in Canada where the insidious forces of communism are at work spreading their revolutionary propaganda and converting thousands to the gospel of Karl Marx." Concluding, he deplored the activity of pacifist organizations actively at work in universities and elsewhere. Many such organizations, he maintained, were directly or indirectly connected and affiliated with communism in order to weaken tile internal peace-time defense of constituted civil authority.

The government now says to the unemployed on relief: You can take it and like it; you must wait your turn, until other interests are served; if you do not like it; if you attempt to protest, we have the means of dealing sternly and effectively with such protests. Taking all these features into consideration as outlining the general policy of the government in dealing with these menacing features of the situation, I think it is only fair to say that this policy envisages the idea of sternly repressing discontent arising from conditions of unemployment, at the same time failing to deal with the causes of that discontent which might be expected to lead to disorder. That, I submit, is a policy which does not make for the stability of the existing framework of society, as described by the minister; it makes definitely for instability. It cannot be demonstrated that it is in the interests of Canada that we should wait patiently for the miseries of unemployment to dissolve themselves. I think past experience has proven that we are paying a higher price for inaction than we would pay for any decisive action or any definite remedial plan at this time. This price is set forth very clearly in a study recently published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, reviewing unemployment as an international problem. They have made a very careful analysis of the social cost of unemployment, suggesting that this may be considered from various angles. I quote:

There is loss in production and national wealth; there is deterioration in the skill,

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Employment Commission-Mr. MacNeil

physique, and morale of the labour force itself; there are the evil consequences of poverty or, in countries where social services do no more than touch the fringe of the question, destitution; there is the charge on governments and local authorities for the provision of relief, and the strains placed on corporate and family life in impoverished communities.

It is suggested here that one of the grave losses is the loss of wealth which might have been produced, and a United States estimate puts the average, for 1930 and lO^l, in lost salaries and wages due to unemployment, not including wage cuts, at S10,000,000,000 a year. I quote again:

The existence of a large mass of unemployed persons tends to depress wages, and therefore employed persons also suffer reductions in income. An estimate of the total loss to the wage-earning classes should include cuts in the wages of those who remain in employment.

The minister has stated that some 332,000 employable persons are now receiving direct relief. It would be safe to assume that if these persons were placed in gainful occupations they might produce wealth to the exent of at least SI,000 per annum per man. Right there we have a loss in wealth production of something like $332,000,000 a year. There is also the further consideration of the loss to wage-earners and consumers. If these 332,000 people were receiving incomes only $500 in excess of the relief they are now receiving, that would certainly increase the consuming power of the masses by a very large amount.

Another feature of the price we are paying is the cost of services for the unemployed. It was stated in the house this afternoon that already the cost to this country has exceeded $700,000,000, and for that reason I think it is high time for us to consider steps to capitalize on anticipated payments in this regard and devise some effective plan that, as I say, would repair the social dyke that is being torn away. This report also deals with the loss of efficiency, a feature which, I think, is frequently overlooked in Canada. I quote again:

There is the damage done to the working force itself in those trades and areas where there is much long continued enforced idleness, accompanied by poverty even where unemployment benefits are reasonably adequate, and by want where they are not. In these cases there is physical and moral deterioration in the long run, except in the case of men and women endowed with exceptional strength of _ character and physique. The deterioration in the skill of the labour force is a national loss.

Again it points out the loss due to lack of apprentices or learners, which is common knowledge to many of us in contact with the trades in Canada to-day, particularly the closed trades, to which no apprentices have been admitted during this depression. The study

also speaks of the efficiency loss through hopelessness, and it quotes a statement of Doctor Temple, Archibishop of York, appearing in the London Times of February 5, 1935:

To an extent which is very hard to estimate but is certainly not negligible, the character and atmosphere of industrial life as at present ordered are affected by the fact and character of "unemployment." Over a great multitude of employed men hangs the menace of that hideous possibility. Through no fault of his own a man may, at a week's notice, be "out of work." Then, unless he is fortunate enough quickly to find work again, he loses his skill; he loses the activity which has become the stimulus to his mental processes; he loses his familiar social intercourse; he is cut off from his friends; he becomes desperate and discontented; even in his home perhaps an unwelcome intruder, outside it an unwanted idler.

Another important loss is the effect upon young people. This study goes on to state:

The effect of idleness or of intermittency of work on young people is universally recognized to be one of the most serious aspects of the unemployment problem. A considerable number of the youthful working population in industrial countries are growing up without acquiring the habits of regular work necessary if they are to become useful members of the community. In many cases unemployed young people suffer enduring physical damage on account of the lack of sufficient food, clothing and shelter at an age when these are of the greatest importance.

Here it speaks of the loss due to the effects on public health:

The fact that there is no rise in the mortality rates does not necessarily mean that the results of widespread unemployment on the national health are not serious. An unemployed man who spends much time in sleep requires less food than when he is fully employed. On the other hand, the wife is bound' to suffer. "The reduction in the family budget often means that she must work harder . .. and the woman probably suffers greater privation than the other members of the family, because she often stints herself for the sake of her husband and children."

These statements apply with considerable force to the conditions which we acknowledge in Canada.

Again we have the effect of malnutrition upon children. This report gives a vivid picture of these conditions throughout the world. Statistics produced in Canada to-day show that serious effects resulting from malnutrition are observed by school nurses and health officers throughout the country. It is definitely shown that the long term results on health and physique are very serious. Therefore we are paying a high price for unemployment. For these reasons we should not hesitate to acknowledge by some definite, decisive course of action whatever expenditure may be involved. The minister suggested that, many projects proposed during

Employment Commission-Mr. MacNeil

this present session would be prohibitive in cost. I suggest that no project yet suggested would be more costly than a continuation of the situation which I have outlined.

One disappointing feature of this bill is that it does not suggest the assumption of national responsibility, and therefore denies any possibility of a national plan. I fail to understand how this grave emergency can be dealt with effectively unless we have a national plan. The bill suggests increased efficiency and improved coordination with the provincial governments, but all efforts to achieve this efficiency and coordination in the past have failed because there has been no centralization of direction and authority. The bill does not propose any definite, central direction of measures to cope with a grave national emergency. The problem is of such magnitude that in my opinion it will not yield to any solution except that devised under a national or federal plan.

The minister places great reliance upon the possibility of cooperation by private enterprise. I think he is over-optimistic on that score. I have a distinct recollection of the activities launched under the Employment Offices Coordination Act of 1919. A council was established at that time for purposes similar to those set forth in this bill, a council, or commission if you like, representative of all the organized interests in the nation, organized agriculture, organized labour, organized ex-service men, organized women, organized manufacturers and so on. It was clearly the intention of the Minister of Labour of that day to achieve exactly the same coordination of effort that the minister proposes to achieve through the employment commission. That effort failed; it failed largely because too great reliance was placed upon the cooperation of private enterprise. I have a distinct recollection of attending sessions of that council and advocating measures, moderate measures, such as are now being considered by the minister, such as to dovetail seasonal unemployment, to take up the slack, as expressed then, to synchronize more closely the purchasing on the part of federal, provincial and municipal governments with our productive activities. That effort at cooperation failed because at that time private enterprise in this country was not willing to share responsibility. It also failed-and we find to-day the wreck of the employment service which was originally outlined-largely because of lack of cooperation by the provincial governments. It was intended at that time to set up in Canada an efficient labour exchange or 12739- mi

employment service similar to that of Great Britain. It failed, although the federal government of the day spent considerable money on the scheme, because the provincial offices were manned under the provincial patronage systems; no attempt was made to secure expert vocational placement in industry or to make a scientific analysis of the problem. It is one more demonstration that division of authority does not result in effective coordination in the face of a situation demanding decisive action.

I am surprised that the minister also expects this cooperation from private enterprise, when he is well aware of prevailing conditions in the business world. Business now can operate only on a profit basis. The desire of those in charge of our economic enterprises is to conduct business so as to make profits. To make profits under competition they must lower production costs, and they cannot successfully assume any share of this burden and forego profits; otherwise business as conducted at the present time would face disaster. Surely, in view of the evidence disclosed before the price spreads and mass buying commission, there is no reason to place any confidence in important business interests, which at that time were shown to have most cruelly and viciously exploited the working class of this dominion.

I also suggest that the results to be obtained from the survey may be largely useless unless they are accompanied at the same time by remedial measures. Conditions are changing very rapidly to-day. The rate of increase of unemployability accelerates as time goes on. Unemployment is rapidly cumulative in effect. By the time the results of the survey are compiled we may be facing an entirely new set of circumstances. We should proceed by a process of trial and error, and I suggest that unemployability cannot be properly determined unless at the same time employment placement is at least attempted. I hardly expect that the minister intends lo have medical examination for unemployed persons. I cannot conceive of the commission attempting to relate correctly each individual person to the employment for which he or she has definite aptitude. I cannot see how the survey will have any definite value unless at the same time the test of vocational placement is applied. There is in the bill no suggestion that simultaneously an effort will be made to open up opportunities of employment while this survey is under way. For this reason I fear that the results of the survey may be largely useless.

The progress made in Sweden was referred to this afternoon. I see no reason why wo

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should be so reluctant to learn from the experience gained in other countries. Sweden is a country of similar characteristics to Canada, with about the same population and character of industry. Whatever may be said about Sweden, these three facts stand out clearly: that throughout the depression they maintained their living standards; that those standards were not lowered as they have been in Canada; that they have reduced unemployment to a negligible degree, and they are very definitely on the way to trade recovery. The index of production has reached a point not yet reached in Canada. In the report to which I have already referred, quoting a report of the international labour office, an important statement is made with regard to Sweden:

The reversal of the tendency towards cutting down public expenditure during the depression was especially noteworthy in Sweden, where capital expenditure was increased in 1933-4 and 1934-5 with the express intention of combating crisis conditions.

In the financial year 1933-4 the budget allocation for public works was doubled. The Prime Minister stated that the main preoccupation of the government was to find an effective way for dealing with unemployment, and that they were seeking it in the stimulating of private enterprise which an increase in government spending might be expected to give. Further extension of this policy continued in 1934-5. In January of that year the Prime Minister stated that government policy was to bring money into circulation, and by increasing the purchasing power of the people to effect a moderate rise in the level of prices. In January, 1935, however, the policy was discontinued, the financing of public works by loans ceased, having served its purpose. Borowing henceforward was only to be resorted to for jjroductive purposes.

I was glad to hear the minister state that he was definitely opposed to any exploitation of the unemployed by private interests. I sincerely hope he maintains that attitude. May I draw his attention to the fact that [DOT] an equally vicious exploitation-

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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Howden):

The hon. member has spoken forty minutes.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Finish the sentence.

Mr. MacNEIL-occurs under the policy of enforcing work for relief. If those on relief are required to work for their allowances, proper working conditions should be established so that they would not suffer undue hardships.

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LIB

Frederick Donald MacKenzie

Liberal

Mr. F. D. MacKENZIE (Neepawa):

Mr Speaker, in rising to speak in this chamber for the first time I believe one should do so with becoming modesty. In olden times it was held that modesty was an outstanding

(Mr. MacNeil.]

maidenly virtue. One's maiden speech, then, should show this virtue, and therefore may I be modest by being brief.

It seems to me that Bill No. 14 represents one of the most important pieces of legislation to be brought before us this session, in that it proposes to create a national employment commission. It is true that the next number on the order paper, No. 20, deals with Bill No. 19, to assist in the relief of unemployment, but we should be careful to differentiate between these two measures, namely Bill No. 14, now under discussion and Bill No. 19.

Bill No. 14, with which we are now dealing, has to do with setting up a commission on employment; that is to say it is to study employment not only for the present or for the present year, but also for the future. Therein it differs from Bill No. 19, which ij to deal with the relief of unemployment, more immediate in its needs and implications. I think, if we take the two bills together, this should go far to reassure the speaker who has just taken his seat. And the very significant feature about the present bill is that it admits at last, and emphatically stresses the fact that the problem of unemployment in all its phases is not a temporary one, or one that will be gone to-morrow, as so many believe. But it may be-I say it may be-a permanent feature of human life on this earth. The bill implies that at least a long-time view must be taken, and it is on that score that I feel it is one of the most important measures before us at the present session. At last we are facing the issue in perspective, and that is the way in which it should be faced.

During the last few days I have had the privilege, if it may be so described, of looking through that section of the parliamentary library which deals with unemployment. In that section I found many books on the subject, and it was curious and interesting to note that a large percentage of the books had a striking similarity of titles. For example we find Unemployment, Its Cause and Cure. That title occurred many times. Again, Unemployment, The Way Out, was another title occurring many times. The curious and significant point to me was that when I looked for the dates of these publications I found that the books with the titles indicating a cause and cure were invariably published in 1930 or 1931 and in some few cases in 1932. The so-called experts of those d'ays in most cases appeared to treat the problem as only a temporary one, and had no hesitation in stating that their special nostrums would effect a cure in a short time. But what of the later texts, later editorials and articles now appearing in the press? Well, people who seem to

Employment Commission-Mr. Gray don

speak with authority in these days are not so sure of themselves, and treat unemployment if not as a permanent matter, then as one which must be considered from a long-term viewpoint. From that standpoint, and keeping that fact in mind, it seems to me that the bill to establish an employment commission is of the highest importance.

If the bill is passed, it at once puts the house on a'ecord as believing that this whole problem must be considered in perspective, and that in its solution the long-term viewpoint must be accepted. The carefully prepared tables of figures placed on Hansard by the Minister of Labour, in which the situation to date in Canada is outlined, bear out the contention I have indicated, and the figures given by the hon. member for Van-couver-Burrard (Mr. McGeer) have a similar effect. It would seem, therefore that there is pressing need for machinery such as this bill would set up.

May I say a word concerning the problem of youth, for whom the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) showed such commendable zeal. May I here and now offer a word of appreciation of the observations of the hon. member and may I assure him that I speak as one who is greatly concerned in the problem of youth, and in a practical way. In my opinion this bill seems to offer the only real solution to the problem confronting youth to-day. May I tell hon. members why? The hon. member for Greenwood said that the reference to youth was tucked away in this bill. It is. And why not? Where else should it be if not in this bill which has to do with the establishment of a commission that has as its main objective a search for the solution of our greatest problem? The problem of youth is a part of that problem. It is wrapped up in that greater problem. It arises out of that problem. So why should it not be there? Anyone who knows anything about the problems of youth knows that. They are, if you will, a byproduct of that greater problem. Conversely, if you cure unemployment, if you solve that problem, automatically you solve the very serious economic problems that youth is facing to-day.

I sometimes feel, sir, that I do know something about youth and its problems, and I say that in all humility. All my life I have been more or less closely associated with youth, in work and in play, academically and in the practical work of life, even, if I may say so, in peace and in more than four years of rotten warfare, and I want to tell the house and this country that I have a great respect, yes, a great admiration for the young Canadian of to-day. Generally,-I say generally-they are

playing the game, and doing so when the going has been very, very heavy. The young people of to-day are not looking for a handout, but they do ask, and some of us are here asking for them, simply that they get a square deal, an even break, so that they may be able to help themselves in the battle of life. That is what they want, to be able to help themselves in the battle of life, and that help I believe will be forthcoming if the larger problem, which embraces the pressing problems of youth, is successfully attacked by this employment commission. With the passing of Bill No. 14, I do look for much from the establishment of this commission on employment.

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CON

Gordon Graydon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Peel):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to preface my remarks this evening with reference to this bill to create a national employment commission by saying that the constituency of Peel which I represent has felt in common with the other parts of this dominion, yes, in common with almost the entire civilized world, in no small degree the severity of the present economic disturbance. The farmers of my county-and there are no better farmers in the dominion- have also felt the severity of the disturbance,, and although they have been prudent, economical, and industrious, they could not escape the effects of lowering prices upon their purchasing power and their means of livelihood. In so far as the worker in that county is concerned, may I say that many of those in my county, who are engaged in industrial and horticultural pursuits, which are perhaps two of the most important pursuits of the workers of that constituency, no longer feel that sense of security which they should properly have. This has been badly shaken in thousands of instances, not only among those who have been thrown out of work, but among those also who have experienced a gradual lowering of the scale of wages which has taken place there as in every other part of this dominion. In the midst of the general problem of unemployment is also the problem of youth, which has been dealt with in masterly fashion by some other members of the house who have spoken previously. May I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that if in a constituency such as I come from, where the people have had their roots in the soil and in industrial activities for many years, they are feeling the effects of the depression, I can quite understand, -even though I have not seen them at firsthand, the difficulties which other parts of Canada not perhaps in some respects so fortunately situated are experiencing.

Many members who have already spoken have given detailed facts and figures in regard to the unemployment problem, but I shall not

1744 COMMONS

Employment Commission-Mr. Graydon

take up the time of the house with that. I believe that the men. who are feeling the effects of this economic disturbance, those who have felt the "squeeze" of conditions, if I may put it in that way, want action rather than words in this House of Commons and in the Dominion of Canada to-day. Satisfies with reference to unemployment are, of course, very necessary, and I have no quarrel whatsoever with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) or the government in seeing to it that we lay a good foundation upon which to work, but I would suggest that when statsitics are being gathered as to the number of men out of work, an inventory should also be taken of another important class of our people who perhaps have not been forgotten by the minister, but of whom it might not be out of place for me to remind him, and that is those who are working for less than a living wage in different parts of this country. I refer to that class because they are just as important in many respects as those who are actually out of work and on relief.

May I speak for a moment of the town from which I come, and which I have mentioned once or twice before in the debates of this house? I hope I shall be pardoned for referring to it so often, but if a man does not think, much of his own town and county he does not think much of the dominion at large, and that will be my reason, if any is needed, for bringing my town into the debates once more.

I come from the town of Brampton. I hope the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) will be kind to us in that town when the budget comes down and will see to it that the tariff on flowers is once more raised to the proper level, so that unemployment will not reach a climax of seriousness by virtue of the recent change. In that town of 5,500 people there are, according to the statement I received for the month of February, 312 people drawing municipal assistance by way of relief, which is less than six per cent. So I say that when we are determining the various factors relating to this unemployment situation we must see to it that the whole picture is before us, because in my own town, which I use as an example for my argument, those figures d:o not display the whole story. I happen to live in a part of the municipality which is practically in the working class district. I am proud ' to be able to say that on the floor of this house, because, next to the farmers whence I came, I do not think you can get better neighbours than the men who labour day by day on a small wage or salary. In that regard I believe I can speak from first-hand knowledge. I know that in many cases-and I am not specially blaming industrialists, because there is no use

in carelessly placing blame here and there- in scores of cases men are not drawing enough wages in two weeks to pay their monthly rent, let alone to provide for clothing, fuel and the necessary food for their families.

So I think I may be pardoned for bringing to the attention of the house not only the plight of the unemployed of my riding, but also the plight of those men who are drawing returns almost as small as those allowed in some municipalities to persons drawing direct relief.

Another point I wish to draw to the attention of the minister has reference to the commission itself. We should not minimize the matter of the appointments that are to be made, because, to my mind at least, they have a very important relation to the whole problem with which we are faced. I say with all kindness to the minister that the personnel of the commission is going to mean life or death to the measure now before parliament for ratification. I must confess to having an inquiring mind with reference to commissions. In the short time that I have been in public life I have had some opportunity of studying commissions. Not all of them-putting it very charitably-have carried out satisfactorily the functions assigned to them by the legislative bodies by which they were created. On the other hand, I may cite particularly to the house the success of one commission in Ontario, whose work for the common people has been outstanding; I refer to the great hydro electric power commission, a public utility of which the people of Ontario have had every right to be proud. The achievement of that commission have, I think, a very direct relation to the matter under consideration by the house in Bill No. 14, because I am confident that the success of that great hydro electric commission in its undertaking must be largely credited to one man who gave almost his entire life to the success of the enterprise, who threw into it his ability and his capacity in the latter half of his life; I .. refer to the late Sir Adam Beck, a man whose name will always be emblazoned on the pages of public utilities history and the general history of the dominion and the province.

So, with reference to the commission which is about to operate under the terms of this measure, it would be well to see to it that the man who heads it, and the six commissioners associated with him, are persons of the right type and calibre, possessed of the ambition and the desire not only to draw their salaries but to go out and make a thorough job of the undertaking which this house is giving into their hands. So far in these debates I have not touched upon questions of partisan politics. I think the people are not

Employment Commission-Mr. Graydon

especially anxious just now about such things; they are more concerned about bread and butter, and I do not blame them. When the men and women who are to comprise the commission are appointed, it would be well for the minister, for the sake, not only of the government and parliament but of the whole dominion, to see to it that not the slightest suspicion of partisan politics enters into any one appointment. That seems to be most important. If I may refer again to the Ontario hydro electric power commission, partisan politics were kept out of that commission during the regime of Sir Adam Beck, to his everlasting credit and glory. It was a tremendous success by virtue of the fact that it had the supreme confidence of all in the province who were the people behind it.

If this commission which is now about to be appointed is to have a good even chance of success-and I hope that it will have every success, because what is good in this instance for the government is good for everyone else in so far as the solution of unemployment and low wage troubles in Canada are concerned-let the government see to it that the personnel appointed is all that the people of Canada have a right to expect. I suggest that there are, among others I might mention, three types of people whom the minister might take into consideration in selecting commissioners. One of them, I suggest, should be a farmer. I think that is important, although what I might like to see will not, perhaps, influence the government very much. The farmer should be a real farmer, not one who goes round with a white collar on, not one who farms in a swivel chair or looks through an office window, but one who knows intimately the conditions in rural Canada. The second man, I suggest, should be a working man, a man who knows something about the working man's problems right down in the shop itself, a man who has not forgotten how to put on a pair of overalls and who is proud that he can wear them with the dignity that overalls give to the man who is a real Canadian. In addition, we should have on the commission a young man or young woman, I do not care which-one is as good as the other-not one who is simply a technical person with a knowledge of problems from a long distance angle, but someone equipped with the actual experience that will enable him or her properly to carry out the job which has to be performed on behalf of the youth of this country.

In conclusion I will say something further to the government and especially to the Minister of Labour. I do not like to hark

back to the last election campaign because these things are old now, and perhaps from the Conservative standpoint it is more pleasant to forget them.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Sub-subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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April 1, 1936