March 1, 1938

LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

It just depends upon your philosophy of life and the things you are in the habit of enjoying. I may go into debt to buy an automobile; I will enjoy it, and I have some value for it. But my philosophy is that I would rather have that automobile paid for before I started to use it. I know it is a lot easier for me. Perhaps that answers the question of the hon. member.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

I have often wondered what the unthrifty people are going to do after the thrifty people have exhausted their funds, and how they are going to make a living then. True, there seems to be some magnetism in our industrial centres by virtue of the fact that living there is a great deal easier. You do not have to put as much energy into making a living. I go to Toronto quite often, and I find that their picture shows are flourishing, and you can see a great deal of prosperity

in and about Toronto. They enjoy life. I should like to draw the attention of the house for a few moments to something I happened to see in the Toronto Daily Star in regard to an Indian by the name of Charlie Jones, who came to Toronto from Shawanga, which is somewhere near Parry Sound. I should like to tell the house what one of our aborigines had to say about the city of Toronto, and I quote this for the very fact that he comes with an open mind. He has made his living in remote districts, and his judgment is not warped by the fact that he has been associated with any other municipality. Apparently he was taken through the city of Toronto by a representative of the Toronto Star, and this question was put to him:

"What do you think of it so far?" . . . "It is beautiful," said Charlie. "Everybody hurrying, but maybe going no place."

This is what I want hon. members to notice:

"But everybody looks contented. I never saw' anybody before that was in such a hurry and yet looked so contented. When people hurry like this, you expect them to look worried. Nobody in this city looks w'orried."

That is the opinion of one of our Indians upon seeing the city of Toronto, and I think that state of affairs is wholesome when we consider that hon. members come here to-night hoping that they can pull a long face and induce us to help the city of Toronto even more, when after all it would be just as well if they would actually give us the expression of their own hearts. In defence of the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Hanson) to-night, may I say that I had occasion-

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An hon. MEMBER:

Can he not defend himself?

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LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

Yes, he can easily defend himself, but for the benefit of the house there is one observation I should like to make. Last year I took advantage of the opportunity to go to that section of our country. I had occasion to stop off at Prince George, I believe it was. I am not sure whether that is in the constituency of the hon. member for Skeena; but in any case when the train stopped I commenced to talk to one of the residents of that community, asking about the condition of affairs in that locality. He said, "You know, in 1935 we had fourteen sawmills, and only two were operating. Now not only are the fourteen running but two additional sawmills have been put in." Perhaps that answers the question fairly well.

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CON
LIB
LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

I do not want to delay the house very much longer, but I thought perhaps some of these observations would be worth drawing to the attention of the house. A person should be reluctant to criticize until he has some constructive suggestion to offer. I generally try to observe that rule as much as possible. It is easy to criticize, but sometimes it is difficult to substitute anything better. The nearest I could get in the case of the hon. member for Greenwood would be to suggest that he go back to the city of Toronto and recommend that it be placed under the municipal board of Ontario, as several other municipalities have been. I would also recommend that he go to some of these rural districts that are out of debt and select a group of commissioners there under which Toronto could be operated.

I take this matter seriously. I really believe there is such a thing as a city getting so large and having all the centres of education and finance that it begins to think all the wisdom is concentrated in it. There are some other municipalities, such as the one I represent, which have not done so badly. In 1932 we farmers were selling our eggs at eight cents, our butter at sixteen cents and our wheat at forty-two cents, but we were able to weather the storm, pay our obligations and at the same time reduce our municipal debts. I am very happy to say, as I mentioned earlier in my remarks, that the constituency which I have the honour to represent will be out of debt in a period of six years, and I am satisfied that the people living there will be reluctant to go into debt again. After all, debt is one of the things that make it very hard for us to take our place in industrial society. We are carrying too large a debt for our population, because concealed in the purchase price of every commodity we buy is some part of this debt.

Some mention has been made of the tariff. I believe the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross) drew attention to the fact that it was unfortunate that there was such a large importation of goods which could be manufactured here, thus depriving these people of work. I do not think the solution suggested is a particularly good one. I am sometimes inclined to take the view that we hold the tariff guilty, either by going up or going down, of doing a good deal more than it really does. We give it a great deal more credit and a much more important place in our national life than we should. My attention was called to an incident that occurred in the town of Paris. I happened to go into one of the mills there, and the manager showed me a cloth of which he said it would take about seven yards to make a suit for an

average man. The manufacturer would get about $5.04 for that amount of cloth. I was told that the cloth would make a suit somewhat similar to the one I am wearing to-night, and that the suit would sell for something around $40, showing the difference between what the manufacturer gets for the actual goods and the price for which the suit sells after the tailor makes it and it is retailed. So you see that a great many costs seem to enter into it, and I think a great deal of that cost can be traced to extravagant municipal, provincial and federal administration.

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, I wish first of all to express my indebtedness to the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Wood) for the answer he has already given to those who have spoken from the other side of the house in connection with the matter of grants in aid to the province of Ontario. I am sorry I was not in my seat this afternoon when the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross) brought up this matter for consideration. Due to a misunderstanding, I was not aware the question was coming up this afternoon, and did not learn of it until after the six o'clock recess. However, I have followed carefully what has been said by other hon. members who have spoken on behalf of the city of Toronto, and I should like to deal-

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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

Mr. Speaker, if the minister would permit an interruption: I was not

speaking on behalf of the city of Toronto alone. I am sure he will understand my remarks were national in character.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I am glad to accept the correction. 1 understand fully, of course, that those who have spoken have done so particularly on behalf of the city they represent, but also with wider considerations in view.

Let me make it clear at the outset that the dominion government does not make grants in aid to the cities or to any other municipalities. The grant in aid which is paid by the dominion government is paid to the several provinces of the dominion, and the grant payable to the various provinces is restricted by the amount of money which has been appropriated by parliament for the purpose.

It will be within the memory of hon. members that at the last session $19,500,000 was voted for this purpose. In the allocation of that sum the government has done its utmost to meet the needs of the various provinces, as those needs were determined, first, by the dimensions of the unemployment problem and, second, by the financial position of the province concerned. I should like to

Unemployment Relief

Mr. Rogers

say emphatically that there has never been any discrimination in the allocation of grants in aid to the various provinces. It is necessary to mention that to-night, because I understand a suggestion was made this afternoon that because of drought conditions in western Canada, of an emergency nature, that total grant of 819,500.000 was heavily charged by increased grants to the western provinces. I should like to contradict that statement- if it was a statement-or to remove the impression which may have been created by what was said this afternoon.

I realize fully that in the distribution of the grant in aid to the various provinces, it is of great importance that the dominion government should avoid any suggestion of discrimination or any preference to one group of provinces over another group of provinces. Therefore, when we were obliged to deal with the emergency situation which developed in western Canada last summer, we did so upon the basis of governor-general's warrants, voted especially for this purpose, and there was no reduction of grants in aid which would otherwise have been available for the eastern provinces.

I will say-and I believe it will be fully understood by hon. members-that in the circumstances we did not feel it possible to make as drastic reductions of the grants payable to the western provinces as we felt justified in doing in the case of the eastern provinces. However, there is only one province in which the grant has been maintained steadily throughout the year, namely Saskatchewan. That grant was maintained because, when the drought area was defined within which the dominion government assumed one hundred per cent financial responsibility, its boundaries were drawn very strictly, and did not by any means include all the areas in the province which suffered severely from the climatic conditions which existed in western Canada during the past summer. I doubt if any hon. member would seriously urge that the dominion government was in error in maintaining the grant in aid to Saskatchewan without reduction throughout the year.

The grant paid to Ontario for the months of October, November and December was $465,000.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Per month?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Yes. Under the terms of

the agreements which are now before the provinces, including Ontario, that amount is continued as a maximum, subject only to the qualification that it shall be reduced if the amount should be in excess of thirty per cent

of the total expenditures for relief in the province. But according to the figures we have received from the provincial government, there is no possibility that the maximum will not be reached during the months of January, February and March, the period covered by the agreement now under discussion.

We have not as yet brought down the estimates for the forthcoming year, and therefore we have not dealt with the grants in aid to the provinces for the next fiscal year. I stated after meeting with the mayors of Ontario that, having regard to the reduction of unemployment, and the financial position of Ontario, the grant paid to that province was a fair and reasonable one. May I point out to hon. members from Toronto, or from other municipalities in Ontario, that to my knowledge the dominion government has never interfered with the provincial government in the distribution of the grant in aid to the municipalities. In other words, Ontario is able, of itself, to determine the financial needs of the municipalities within its borders. We try to meet the situation as we see it in the various provinces. It is the duty of the provincial government, therefore, to deal with the situation as it is observed in the various municipalities.

While I am on this point, I should like to observe that it is also within the power of any provincial government to widen the powers of taxation enjoyed by the municipalities. I know of nothing to prevent a provincial legislature from conferring upon a municipality any power of taxation which the province itself possesses. I fully agree with what has been said to-night regarding the plight of the small property owner. From the time I first came into active contact with the relief problem in Canada I have been impressed with the unfairness of a system of relief which presses as heavily as it does upon those who own real estate. But I would suggest to hon. members that the only solution to this problem does not lie in an increase in grants in aid payable by the dominion to the provinces. It is within the power of the provinces to increase the grants to municipalities, over and above the amount received from the dominion government. It is also within the power of the provincial governments to confer wider powers of taxation upon the municipalities within their borders.

The whole question of the respective obligations of various governmental agencies towards relief is one which is coming before the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations. Submissions have been made on behalf of the municipalities of the various

Unemployment Relief-Mr. Rogers

provinces. I have no doubt further submissions will be made on behalf of the mayors of the dominion. No one can doubt the importance of this aspect of our system of public finance. But until that question receives the wider consideration it deserves, I think we should bear in mind that the dominion government is two degrees removed from the municipalities. It has never been indifferent to the plight of the municipalities, but the primary responsibility for dealing with the position in which the municipalities find themselves rests with the provincial governments. I believe that has always been well understood.

At the same time I should like to make it clear that although that is the correct constitutional position-I do not hesitate to use that phrase in describing it, for it is a position which has been accepted alike by the preceding and the present administrations-when this government came into office it was so much impressed with the plight of the municipalities that one of the first things it did was to increase the grants in aid to the provinces by seventy-five per cent. At the same time it was made clear in the order in council that the additional amount should be passed over for the relief of the municipalities. I think I am entitled to point that out to hon. friends opposite.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Was that not a seasonal increase? The grants go down in the summer and are increased as the winter months come on. Was that increase not made in October with the winter coming on?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The grants were increased for December, January, February and March by seventy-five per cent.

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CON
LIB
CON
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Over what they had been for a period of fifteen months.

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CON

March 1, 1938