I assume I need not draw to the attention of the minister the great importance of the social legislation and its fate when it was brought before the judicial committee of the privy council some time ago. In almost every quarter where there is labour feeling, in my constituency and in other places throughout the province from which I come, the matter of the social legislation which was passed by the late government has assumed very great moment indeed.
I should like to point out to the minister, who I know has the matter in hand and who is very anxious that something concrete should be done, that this is one of the most important problems facing the government of the day. I would point out further that wherever you speak to the labouring men in industry or on the street, the same questions come up-the eight hour day and' the minimum wage legislation. In the last week I have talked with many people employed in industry and they are very much concerned over the attitude of the government of the day with respect to the enacting of legislation of this kind on a permanent basis. The eight hour day, the question of minimum wages and the question of unemployment insurance in the dominion at large are matters that vitally concern the labouring people in Canada. I submit that something should be done at once to implement the suggestion madte by the hon. member for Vancouver South a few moments ago, and that no time should be lost in calling a conference or at least in doing something along these lines, because the labouring people demand that the government shall do something worth while for them and do it quickly.
None of the provinces, to my knowledge, has enacted legislation precisely in these terms, and I have not before me a statement of the legislation respecting hours and minimum wages existing in the various provinces. Most of the provinces have statutes covering both hours and minimum wages, generally minimum wages only for women.
The eastern representative, Mr. Quirk, whose office is at Montreal, covers a territory including the maritime provinces. He does this in the same way as the western representative with an office at Vancouver covers the prairie provinces and British Columbia.
minister that the people of the maritimes are urging the appointment of a fair wage officer to be located in the maritime provinces. I appreciate the fact that the work is being done from Montreal and I have no particular criticism of the officer, but it has been brought to my attention at different times that there is a desire to have an officer appointed for the maritime provinces, to be located there, and I suggest that the most suitable place would be somewhere in New Brunswick, possibly Saint John.
I may say for the information of the hon. member for St. John-Albert that there was a fair wage officer at Halifax and he was removed by the late administration. Mr. Quirk comes from Halifax and has always been most satisfactory in every respect. I am only too pleased to be able to make that statement. I do think that the minister, together with his deputy and his assistants, might take into consideration the suggestion made by the hon. member for St. John-Albert, but I must add that I cannot endorse the idea that an officer should be moved from Halifax and the new appointee be located in Saint John.
If there are any complaints of that kind I shall be glad to have them brought to my attention, and if they fall within the Fair Wage Act it is the duty of the Department of Labour to see that the matter is rectified. It may be that certain projects are excepted from the operation of the Fair Wage Act. The act itself provides for such exception by order in council, but from the information given by my hon. friend I am not able to say whether the eight hour day is being exceeded in any particular project.
There have been suggestions from time to time that there should be a fair wage officer resident in the maritime provinces. The matter referred to a moment ago by the hon. member for St. John-Albert has received the attention of the department, and we realize that there are some reasons- particularly the question of easy access in cases of dispute-which seem to recommend the appointment of a fair wage officer in the maritime provinces. On the other hand, we have not yet been convinced that the eastern representative is not able to work satisfactorily. It will be remembered that provision is now being made for the appointment of four junior conciliation officers, and with that addition to the staff it may be possible to meet the situation which we have been discussing.