May 4, 1936

INTERIM SUPPLY


The house in committee of ways and means, Mr. Sanderson in the chair. Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance) moved: Resolved, that towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty on account of certain expenses of the public service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1937, the sum of $29,425,189 be granted out of the consolidated revenue fund of Canada. Motion agreed to. Supply-Labour-Relief Works Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Dunning thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 58, for granting to His Majesty certain sums of money for the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 1937. Motion agreed to, bill read the first and second times, considered in committee, reported, read the third time and passed.



The house in committee of supply, Mr. Sanderson in the chair.



Other projects-amount required for new works to be undertaken in cooperation with the provinces, $9,200,000-


CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Would the minister give a list of the projects by provinces?

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): I believe I pointed out previously that it was quite impossible to give a list of the projects to be undertaken under this vote. The reason lies in the fact that these projects are to be undertaken cooperatively with the provinces, and ;t is therefore necessary that we should negotiate with the provinces an agreement covering the work to be undertaken. Particular works to be covered by this vote will appear as a schedule to the agreement.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Are these amounts to cover expenditures made by the previous government?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

No, these are new works to be undertaken in conjunction with the provinces.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

How did the minister arrive at the amount?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

It was difficult to arrive at an amount which would suffice for this purpose. Obviously it was impossible to provide public works in cooperation with the provinces sufficient to meet their respective employment requirements. We looked back over what had been done in recent years and- tried to strike, on the basis of what we felt was fair and reasonable in the circumstances, an estimate of what would be an adequate amount for such works during the forthcoming year.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

Does the minister mean that he took the figures of the last few years and averaged them and decided on the amount on that basis?

Mr. ROGERS': This question was raised when the matter was before the house some days ago, and I suggested that this did appear

to be at least one method of approaching a sum which might meet the situation during the forthcoming year. Obviously it would be very difficult to get an exact estimate of what would be required or of what would be a reasonable amount to meet all the requirements of the coming fiscal year.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

In other words, Mr. Chairman, I judge from what the minister says that he is putting in this blanket sum without having any particular idea of how much he will require. We come again to the same thing we discussed last sitting in connection with another item, that this is a sum which is more than he expects to require, but he has put in sufficient to cover all possibilities; in other words, he has put in as large an amount for this purpose as the previous government spent for these same objects under the so-called blank cheque. It amounts to this, that this is another way of avoiding what has been styled a blank cheque, at the same time keeping it entirely within the hands of the government as to how much they wilt spend for these purposes.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I think there is this material difference between the two methods. Under the blank cheque legislation it might have been quite true that a sum of approximately ten million dollars was assigned during each succeeding year or upon an average during the last five years, but, as my right hon. friend understands, that was only a fraction of the total amount expended under the relief acts. Here we are restricting ourselves to a definite amount for public works to be undertaken in conjunction with the provinces, and elsewhere throughout these supplementary estimates we are setting definite amounts against specified items. My right hon. friend may object that the items are not sufficiently precise, but as I suggested some days ago, it is surely a misuse of language to say that this is a blank cheque in the sense in which that expression has been used during the last few years.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

I think in fact this may have very much worse results than the blank cheque. The previous government under the authority given them spent some-think like this amount on an average-

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Just on these works.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

On these works. My opinion is that the minister is in a worse position with a fixed amount for these purposes than he would be under the legislation passed by the previous government. The reason I say that is that my experience taught me that when an amount is put in the

Supply-Labour-Relief Works

estimates for a particular thing, pressure is more effectively brought on the government to spend every dollar of that amount than it is under the so-called blank cheque legislation. If the minister will consult some of his colleagues I think he will find that when an estimate of $50,000 is put in for one department, the pressure is very great on the minister in charge of that department to spend the whole $50,000. Possibly when the estimate is made they think perhaps $30,000 or $35,000 may be sufficient, but they find it very difficult to keep the expenditure below the amount fixed in the estimate. The minister will find it almost impossible to resist the pressure to spend every dollar of this money. So long as there is any part of the estimate left how can he refuse an application from the provinces, and particularly from his friends in the different parts of Canada, to go on and spend money until it is all gone? In 1930 the previous government obtained from parliament a specific vote, I think it was $20,000,000, and I assure you that we found it easier under the legislation of the subsequent years, which has been called the blank cheque legislation, to resist applications for money for various purposes under the relief act than we did in 1930 when we had a specific sum appropriated for that purpose.

I do not propose to discuss the matter any further. I have already explained my view to the minister, and I know it was discussed the other evening when I was not present. I do not want to traverse the same ground aver and over, but I do feel that the present government are not putting themselves in any better position to resist unreasonable demands by this form of estimate than we were in under our legislation for the last four years.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

Will a statement of the items be brought down before parliament prorogues?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

To the extent that agreements with the provinces are completed before parliament prorogues, we shall, I think, be in a position to place the agreements before the house. In the relief bill as originally drafted there was a specific provision for the approval of the agreements by resolution of the House of Commons, but exception was taken to the inclusion of that clause in the relief bill and it was deleted.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

If no agreements are

reached with the provinces then we shall not know any more about these items than we know now. That is one objection we have; wre do not know that anything is to

be done; we do not know whether this amount will be spent. In regard to the blank cheque feature, for which the previous government were so much criticized, I always felt that the reason the blank cheque was asked for at the time was not to give the government unlimited scope but in order that they might restrict their expenditure. If we do not have the general items specified, is there any reason why this government should spend even the amount of the estimate? They may say that they did not come to agreements, and then nothing will be done. Again, we find the minister stating that the figures they have in the estimate now are arrived at from what the previous government did. Their criticism of the previous government was that it was not doing enough, was not dealing with the unemployment problem in a proper way. I have before me a newspaper report of one of the radio talks by the present Prime Minister during the general election, and one statement is, that "Bennett started too late to solve problem." If the present government are going to follow along the same line as the past government, what difference is the change of government going to make to the country?

I should like the minister to feel that we are not criticizing him just for the sake of criticism or in order to hear ourselves talk. He was rather annoyed on Thursday evening when there was some criticism from this corner of the house, but I should like him to feel that in no part of the house is he thought of more kindly than he is in this section. Not only in the house itself but in our group outside the house that is true. I have before me one of the papers that supports our movement, and in the notes from Saskatchewan I find this paragraph: .

The Rosetown-Biggar M.P. had a few nice words to say of the Minister of Labour, Hon. Norman Rogers. The minister, said Mr. Cold well, was a man of vision and great ability, but was finding it very difficult to accomplish anything under the present order.

I also believe the minister has great ability, and it is because I want to continue in that belief that I suggest he try to get something done. On Thursday evening, looking at this section, he made this statement, as reported at page 2355 of Hansard:

I have no objection whatever to marching forward but I want to know where I am going. I want to know whether my next step is to be on firm ground or in quicksand, and I am not so sure that some hon. members are so anxious as to the direction in which they are going.

It is because we are anxious as to the direction in which we are going that we are criticizing. We are drifting; the minister cannot say where the next step is going to

Supply-Labour-Relief Works

be. No government can say where we are going so long as they leave the economic life of the country in the control of private individuals who exploit it for their own gain. It is to that we object. There is no reason why the government could not have a more specific program to place before parliament than that now before us. There has been plenty of time to produce it, although I have no doubt there are many things to do. Until we have some indication that something specific and ordered is going to be done we shall have occasion to complain, and I am afraid that under such circumstances the unemployed are not going to fare any better than they have fared in the past six years.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

I think the minister might

give a little more information than we have had up to now. This item and others connected with it represent a program of works which the government offer for the alleviation of unemployment. Speaking in this chamber on Thursday evening last the Minister of Labour said the government were undertaking an expenditure of about $80,000,000 on a program for the relief of the unemployed. Is that statement correct?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I believe that covered all

expenditures in the various departments of government mentioned in the special supplementary estimates.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   INTERIM SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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May 4, 1936