March 1, 1938

LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Over what they had been since August, 1934. They had been maintained at the same rate from August, 1934, to December, 1935, and we increased them by seventy-five per cent for the months I have mentioned. Thereafter, as employment improved, we made gradual reductions, first by way of a percentage and later in the form of adjustments which had regard rather to the actual unemployment conditions in the various provinces.

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CON
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Which had not been done every season, if I may correct my hon. friend. Prior to August, 1934, the grants had been on a basis of 334 per cent by the dominion, 334 per cent by the province and 334 per cent by the municipality. Following a dominion-provincial conference, in July, 1934, the previous administration decided to pay the grants upon the basis of a fixed grant in aid payable monthly to the various provinces. That system was maintained up to the time to which I have referred. In December, 1935, two months after this administration came into office, we increased those grants by seventy-five per cent.

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CON

Alexander McKay Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

Was that seventy-five per cent increase for the whole year or just for certain months?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I have tried to make myself clear. It was an increase of seventy-five per cent in the amounts which had been paid monthly in the preceding year. As I say, there was no revision from August, 1934, to December, 1935.

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LIB
LIB
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

They ran the same from August, 1934, to December, 1935.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I mention that because I think it should be recognized by hon. members opposite that this government has had in mind the position of the municipalities. When we reduced the grants in aid, the reduction was upon the basis of the improvement in the general employment situation, and also the improved financial position of most of the provinces of the dominion.

I doubt very much if we are going to make progress toward a reduction of the relief problem unless we take account of these essential factors. For example, if the dominion government were to increase the grants while the problem remained the same, it would simply afford an inducement to the provinces and the municipalities to relax their efforts to reduce the relief problem. I say that with some knowledge of what has happened in previous years. As a matter of fact, those who were members of the previous administration will understand me when I say that the chief reason for the dominion government departing from the principle of percentage payments was simply the fact that with a percentage basis there was no way in which relief lists could be kept properly under control. That was the reason why the

Questions

percentage basis was abandoned and grants in aid adopted as a substitute. Following the recommendations of the national employment commission, we have attached to the grants in aid a maximum percentage rather in order to avoid the periodic and somewhat disturbing revisions of grants in aid from one quarter to another.

I think it must be recognized also that there has been a marked improvement in the unemployment situation. The hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Harris) suggested that there is a real need at this time for a strong man or a superman.

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LIB
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I am sure he will not misunderstand me when I remind him that he was a supporter of an administration which certainly in his view and in the view of many people in this country was headed by a strong man, a man who, some people believed, was a superman. I should like to give my hon. friend the unemployment record for those years. I should also like to remind him of the fact that this record occurred during the years following the changing of the tariff policy of this country at an emergency session. The result of that policy was not an improvement in employment, but rather a marked increase in unemployment.

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CON
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Here are the number of unemployed for the months of December in successive years:

1930 413,000

1931 543,000

1932 675,000

1933 623,000

1934 571,000

1935 546,000

1936 502,000

1937 381,000

In the past year there has been an improvement of 120,000. Not only that, but the relief lists show that there have been removed from the relief rolls and added to the wage rolls of this country a number very close to 100,000. You cannot go back to any year from 1929 to the present time and find as great an improvement in a single year.

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CON

Alexander McKay Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

Has the minister the figures for December, 1937, and January, 1938?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The figure for December, 1937, is 381,000. I believe there will be a

further opportunity to-morrow to continue this discussion in connection with another motion.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, March 2, 1938


March 1, 1938