March 3, 1937

LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

With the

unanimous consent of the house.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

Walter Frederick Kuhl

Social Credit

Mr. KUHL:

I should like to have been able to develop the idea of leisure and the enormous possibilities for our people in an age of leisure. 1 trust I shall have that opportunity later.

So far as the question of unemployment is concerned, I do not believe that the present government has taken any adequate steps to deal with it as it should be dealt with. I believe that so long as the present, government or any government in the world insists that the object of an economic system is to find jobs, we shall never solve the unemployment problem. And because I believe that I intend to vote for the amendment.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DENTON MASSEY (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, rising to speak to the amendment introduced yesterday by the right hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett),

JMr. Kuhl.]

I realize that we are discussing a question which, of itself, confronts the people in divers and, at times, insidious ways-the question of unemployment. The amendment itself deals with the question of unemployment, not with that of employment. May I read it?

That all the words after the word "that" in the said motion be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

"This house regrets that the government has failed to take effective measures to deal with the problem of unemployment."

Mr. Speaker, I postulate right here that there is not a member of the house, regardless of whether he be a member of the government or not, but who can vote for this amendment. Measures may have been tried by the government, and steps may have been taken, but there is not a man in t'he house who, if he looks squarely at the figures and faces the facts of unemployment, can say that these measures have been effective. No effective measures have been taken to deal with the problem of unemployment.

Let us look at the record. The figures I shall use are compiled by the bureau of statistics. In May, 1931, there were 440.000 unemployed in Canada; in February, 1933, there were 713,000; in February, 1934, there were 584,000; in February, 1935, there were 552,000, and in October of 1935, when those who were propounding the "great principles of Liberalism" were sounding their clarion call from coast to coast, and referring in no uncertain terms to conditions in Canada as they saw them, there were 435,000 unemployed. Then, in December, 1936, there were 502,000 unemployed and in January, 1937, 500,000.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Has the hon. member the

figures for January, 1936?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

I have the figure for January, 1936; it is 556,000. In the course of my remarks I purpose dealing with that slight reduction of ten per cent from the preceding January.

I have, too, a voluminous table which lays out in exact detail the summary by months of numbers reported by provinces as having been afforded relief from May, 1932, to January 31, 1937. The figures are given per month and are divided mainly into two parts dealing with direct relief, and other relief projects. Under direct relief there are the subdivisions "not including dried out areas" and "dried out areas." Then, each of these two subdivisions is further subdivided into heads of families, dependents, individual cases and total. Under "other relief projects" the subdivisions are as follows: Single homeless; provincial works; trans-Canada highway; municipal works; farm placement; federal works; movement and

The Budget-Mr. Massey

assistance of settlers, and relief settlement. Then there is a column showing the grand total of all the categories I have listed.

Picking the figures at random, let us look at February, 1933. In that month there were 1.533.842 on relief; in February. 1934. there were 1.491,059; in February, 1935, 1,433,891; in September, 1935, 985,288; in September, 1936, 1.029,156 and in January, 1937, 1.301.530.

In view of these figures it is difficult to understand how any hon. member who faces the facts therein disclosed can vote against the amendment as it is worded. The test of any effort is to be found in its results, not in the theory that motivates it or in the neatness of the applied pedantry. After all. if there is a job of work to be done, the effectiveness of the attempted work is to be found in the results. That fact hon. members must admit. The amendment states that the government has failed to take " effective measures to deal with the problem of unemployment," and in the face of the figures I have just placed on Hansard I am sure the feeling is widespread throughout the house that no matter what the measures may have been, no matter how sincere may have been their motivation, and no matter anything else, in the result they have failed.

Last evening the Minister of Labour (Mr. Pogers) in a speech to which I listened with great care, spoke as he always speaks-well. I have read his speech to-day; I have read it carefully, and it seems to me that he dealt with the problem of employment rather than with that of unemployment. The amendment deals with unemployment. The theories of employment are perhaps better known to the minister than to many hon. members, but the fact of unemployment, increasing as it has since September of last year, is one known to every hon. member.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

It does that every year, from September.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Yes, there is the seasonal change. But on the other hand, when the minister asked for it a few moments ago, I placed upon Hansard the figure for January. 1936, which indicated a decrease of ten per cent, with which, as I said at the time, I expect to deal as I proceed.

During the course of his budget speech, referring to employment, the Minister of Finance made these observations as reported at page 1216 of Hansard:

The disheartening aspect of these figures, however, is the obvious failure of employment to keep pace with the striking gains in business activity previously reported. Partial explanation of this is to be found in the substitution of full-time for part-time work and in the taking up of the "slack" which previously existed as a result of redundant staffs maintained by many employers who were reluctant to dismiss employees not really needed. For the rest, the explanation rests upon the progress of invention and the improvement in technical and managerial processes. To this extent it is a phenomenon which is usually met with in the early stages of recovery from depression. As it indicates an increased efficiency in the productive mechanism, its results are not to be deplored. Its ill effects are temporary: in the long run it increases employment by cheapening production and expanding consumer purchasing power. As recovery gathers momentum, increases in employment will tend to conform more closely to expansion in business activity.

It is well understood that employment or reemployment lags behind a rise in business activity. It is just as though unemployment were a large block to which was attached an elastic band in the hand of returning prosperity. If that hand is moved quickly, the block remains comparatively still until suddenly it jumps forward to the hand and meets it. Employment lags behind a rise in business activity. If there be a rise in business activity and if there be unemployment, then some artificial stimulation must be given to unemployment as a whole in order to maintain an even basis between the increased business activity and employment. During the course of his remarks, the Minister of Finance stated, as reported on page 1213 of Hansard:

An obvious indicator of the general state of our economic health is the volume of dividend distributions by corporations. It is gratifying to report, therefore, that reliable estimates of profits for the past year were the highest since 1930. and reveal an increase of more than 13 per cent over the 1935 total.

With that I do not agree. During the last few years I think we have come to a greater realization of the intrinsic value of human values and human feelings. In these days we should not consider alone figures which may be introduced in a budget speech. We must not consider alone figures relative to unemployment; we must try to see what is behind those figures. Therefore, it seems to me that the real indicator of economic progress in Canada is not to be found on paper but in the number of the unemployed and the living conditions under which those men and their families are compelled to live. The only test of economic progress ,in Canada is to be found in our standard of living.

The Minister of Labour stated last night that while he was not satisfied with the progress that had been made, he was encouraged by it. I think there are many hon. members of this house who will agree with the first part of that statement, that they are not satisfied, but there are many who are,

The Budget-Mr. Massey

to phrase it mildly, discouraged by the continuing ghastly figures of unemployment. During the course of his remarks we listened to many statements with reference to the "broad aspects of the unemployment problem" and the "broad principles" that were to motivate the National Employment Commission. What are those broad aspects? What are those broad principles? If we spread ourselves out so broadly and so thinly, as we seem to be doing, the aspects and the principles may be broad, but they are not such as will cure unemployment. We are not interested in theory; we are interested in practice. The government is charged with a direct responsibility. We are not challenged as a parliament to study the wide application of broad aspects and broad principles. This parliament should seek, as this country does demand, direct results. It is results that count.

The minister placed upon Hansard the cost of operating the National Employment Commission to date. He stated that the members of the commission have received to date as salaries and travelling expenses a total of $18,066. The total expenditure for the youth employment committee have amounted to $8,951.51, and for the women's employment committee, $2,916. The total cost of personnel so far is $16,888.89, while the full cost of registration is $40,596.32. The complete total cost is $87,418. No statement was made by the minister as to the cost of calculating machines, office rentals and the like.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

That was all included in the cost of registration.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

I am relieved to hear that. A total of $87,418 has been spent so far by this National Employment Commission. For what? The minister listed some alleged accomplishments of the commission. We listened with a great deal of interest to what he recited as the returns for this $87,418. With a flush of pride the minister announced that 46,000 men had been placed under the farm placement scheme. That was started by whom?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

A continuance of the old plan.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Developed from it.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Developed from what?

From the old plan set up by the late government.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I made that quite plain.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Did this recent development really require $87,418? I compliment the minister to the degree that he could have

done the job himself just as well. It did not need an expenditure of $87,418 to improve that plan.

Then the minister referred to the fact that approximately 5.000 men had been placed in the forests of British Columbia. The National Employment Commission was no doubt responsible for the Ottawa agreements and the United States trade agreement 1 There is a natural absorption of labour in the coming of good times. British Columbia received many benefits under the empire trade agreements of 1932. It has been stated by hon. gentlemen opposite over and over again with triumph that the lumber industry of British Columbia received extraordinary benefits under the United .States agreement. Looking through a pamphlet issued by the bureau of statistics giving a number of items affected by the Canada-United States trade agreement, as far as exportation from Canada is concerned, I find certain figures concerning in part at least British Columbia forests and dealing with Canadian exports to the United States. A comparison of the 1935 and 1936 figures is as follows:

1935 1936

Piling $ 19,900 $ 36,500

Plank and board

softwood

7,555,800 11,284,100Shingles

7,271,800 6,027,600Wood pulp

22,290,300 26,504,500Newsprint

70,957,500 83,545,900Total $108,095,300 $127,398,600

The increase amounted to $19,303,300, or 18 per cent. Is it not possible that a very substantial proportion of these five thousand young men went to work in the forests of British Columbia as a result of that increase as well as the substantial increases consequent upon the Ottawa 1932 agreements? Did it take the combined efforts of $87,418 worth of national employment commission to place these five thousand men?

During the course of his remarks the minister also referred, with no small degree of emphasis, to the removal of a great blot that had besmirched the escutcheon of Canada. He did not use that language, but he no doubt had it in his mind when he referred to the relief camps. He told us how these relief camps had been closed. He was speaking of the National Employment Commission at the time-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I was not speaking of the commission at that time.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Not at that particular time? I thought the commission was in his mind all through his speech. You could see that he was haunted by it. I recall very clearly in this chamber last session, prior to the

The Budget-Mr, Massey

setting up of the National Employment Commission the minister telling the story of the closing of the relief camps. He referred yesterday to the men who had worked on the railways last summer, and he was followed by the member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) who gave the house facts and figures from his own experience as to the results. I am forced from my own experience, Mr. Speaker, to agree with my hon. friend from Vancouver North that the results have been far from satisfactory, and the results this summer were unsatisfactory so far as the young men were concerned. The railways benefited very much by what was done, but the young men did not benefit at all so far as I have been able to see. Where have these men gone since the railway work was finished? The member for Vancouver North told us last night where some of them had gone. When I was in Calgary and Edmonton in November, 1936, responsible persons informed me of their worries in regard to these young men who were floating into their cities. Vancouver tells the same story. The same story can be told in the east. The city of Toronto could tell the same story. Is this an achievement of the National Employment Commission? Is this what we received for $87,418?

Then the minister referred to the home improvement plan. I have already spoken of the home improvement plan in this chamber, and I see no reason why I should recall any remarks that I have made concerning it. It i3 a step, but it is a small step, in the creation of work. The results to date, in spite of the high pressure that has been put on the home improvement plan, as a result of the efforts of $87,418 worth of commission, have been about $1,500,000, I believe. Am I not correct in that?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Close to $2,000,000, I think.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Getting close to $2,000,000, and that after a half million dollar advertising campaign, every dollar of which was subscribed for the good of the cause.

The right hon. leader of the opposition yesterday afternoon placed upon Hansard what he called a "deadly parallel" between the 1932 agreements and the present agreement with the United Kingdom. If time permitted this afternoon I could place upon Hansard a deadly parallel between the United States home improvement plan and the Canadian plan. Our home improvement plan was lifted bodily from the United States-with a few changes, I admit-and brought to Canada. Did it require $87,418 worth of commission to lift that plan from the United

States? Again I compliment the minister to the extent of saying that he himself could have prepared the Canadian plan.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

But not the organization across the country.

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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Not perhaps the organization across the country, but certainly if the plan is as worthy as he thinks it is, the provinces, which are so "emphatically Liberal," as we have heard over and over again, and the municipalities, would have rejoiced to cooperate with him.

In the course of his remarks the minister made a statement which rather interested me. He said:

Again, I think one can say that that kind of nation-wide cooperative effort was rendered possible only by the National Employment Commission. I feel certain that it could not have been put into effective operation by any department of the dominion government.

That I think is a reflection on the minister's own department and on the Department of Finance. I am sure hon. members on both sides of this house have a higher opinion of those two departments than that. I do not see that it requires in any way, shape or form $87,418 worth of commission to copy and set up and operate the home improvement plan.

And what was all the minister was able to place before this house as having been accomplished by the commission so far? I have referred to the 46,000 placed on farms under the farm placement plan which was inaugurated by the former government, and to the 5,000 who have gone into the forests of British Columbia as a result of improved conditions. I have referred to the fiasco of the railway labour plan of last summer, and to the so far inept home improvement plan, inept so far as creating work is concerned. That is all we have to show for our $87,418 worth of commission.

The minister also referred to the fact that registration throughout the municipalities had been carried forward with great effectiveness, so much so that many of those who were on relief were found to be unworthy of relief, or were found not to be in a position of necessity to continue on relief. The minister put it this way, that when they were called to census they did not have the courage to respond. But that registration was not done by the commission, Mr. Speaker; it was done by the municipalities and paid for by the municipalities, and the registration of those on relief, if the minister had required the total figures, could have been completed in the bureau of statistics. Surely the figures could have been sent in to the bureau from

The Budget-Mr. Massey

the municipalities, totalled, and handed to the minister. Then the statement I read at the introduction of my remarks in regard to those on relief, going back to 1931, is a clear statement of fact relative to relief rolls. Surely the minister will admit that it is a fairly efficient statement; and what further information was necessary to the minister in regard to his great plan to cure unemployment? The minister has before him constantly figures as a result of the activities of his own department, and there is a basis upon which he could work and plan. The registration, I repeat, was carried forward by the municipalities and not by the commission; the Labour department's own figures are adequate; why then the need of $87,418 worth of commission to supply him with duplicate figures and statistics?

Let us examine another aspect of the situation. We listened with a good deal of interest to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) as he introduced his budget, and may I say, as I have risen in my place to speak on the amendment rather than on the budget, that I have not yet congratulated the Minister of Finance upon his excellent presentation. After he presented his budget we saw headlines in the daily press about this "cheerful budget." I have not seen any references to the cheerfulnes of the minister, which might have been more apt. But the cheerfulness, if any, of the budget was unquestionably based on the trade figures. Exports, the minister reported, were up twenty-three per cent; imports were up fifteen per cent, and hon. members pounded their desks to express their approbation. Let us examine the figures for just a moment.

In 1935 our exports to the United Kingdom amounted to 37-2 of our total exports, and our exports to the empire amounted to 43 per cent of our total exports. Then 43-4 per cent of our exports went to the United States. The year 1936 presents an interesting contrast. Our exports to the United Kingdom had increased by 2-2 per cent, to 39-4 per cent of the total, and our exports to the empire had gone up by two-tenths of one per cent, to bring the figure to 43-2 per cent. Exports to the United States had dropped by 3-3 per cent to 40-1 per cent. We have been told that our trade with the United States has increased-which it has-and looking through the figures supplied to me by the bureau of statistics relative to trade I note that the increased total of the 1936 trade as compared with 1935 trade to the United States represents 13-3 per cent. As one looks through the United Kingdom trade figures one notices there an increase of 34 per cent under the old

Ottawa agreements. Thus, under the new agreement with the United States there was an increase of 13-3 per cent and under the old Ottawa agreement with the United Kingdom there was an increase of 34 per cent. Now, Mr. Speaker, times are getting better as far as trade is concerned, but who am I or who is the Minister of Finance or who is any hon. member of this house to face an unemployment situation wherein there are, in round figures, 1,300,000 people on relief and 500,000 unemployed; to stand up and say " times are getting better in terms of trade " and not go further and present a program for the amelioration of unemployment? I submit that the general betterment of Canadian conditions to date has been not because of government action but chiefly in spite of government inaction.

What tools have been used to decrease unemployment? What tools, outside of the United States agreement, have been used to increase employment?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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March 3, 1937