March 21, 1938

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The situation is much more difficult than it otherwise would be. The fact is that there are only two great shops in the Canadian National Railways and the Canadian Pacific systems capable of constructing locomotives and certain kinds of equipment.

C.N.R.-Shop Employees

I understand that both these shops are in Montreal, the one at Point St. Charles and the other the Angus shops. The complete building of cars is possible at other shops, such as the one at Calgary. It has always been considered important by those having to do with the economic situation in that locality that provision should be made to produce a limited number, however small it might be, of cars. The same thing can foe said with respect to Transcona and the other shops in the Canadian National system.

There need be no apology for bringing up this matter in the house; parliament has always had to do with the capital expenditures of this railway and has had to find the money for them. It may well be, as the hon. member for Grey-Bruce (Miss Macphail) has said, that it would foe desirable to ascertain at the earliest possible moment what would be involved in relief expenditures, based on the facts as stated by hon. members from Winnipeg, Calgary and elsewhere, and what additional sums would be required if the work were carried on in the shops as indicated. However, if there is no work to do, that is a different thing.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

May I just repeat what I said before with regard to relief expenditures? It is the earnest hope and the real expectation of the management that no one will be laid off in any shop in Canada. If the work is distributed, as it has been for years, there is no question of relief. It is a question of an income of $130 per month being cut to about $105 per month, so that there is no question of relief.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The observations of the Minister of Transport will relieve us all of a great sense of anxiety. If, as he says, there is no likelihood of anyone being laid off, then we need have no further cause for apprehension. That is what his last remark amounts to, so it seems to me to be undesirable and unnecessary to traverse further this phase of it. I am sure it will come as a matter of great satisfaction to the hon. member who moved this motion and to those who have spoken to know that such is the case. I certainly had thought that a situation had arisen where owing to a shortage of traffic the railway companies had found it desirable or necessary from a purely economic standpoint to lay off some of their employees, but the assurance given by the Minister of Transport relieves me of any anxiety on that score. I am sure we are all very happy to know that that difficulty has been overcome.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Perhaps I might make myself clear. Negotiations are under way between the company and the men to decide whether the strict letter of the schedule, which has not been observed for years, shall be adhered to. The men are saying that they will insist upon those men who are retained, working the full forty hours per week. This would mean a twenty per cent reduction in the personnel, whereas the management are pressing for the continuation of the system which has been applied for years, under which there would be a twenty per cent reduction in the working time and no reduction in personnel.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That would mean instead of the junior men being laid off, both the senior and junior men would continue to work, but for shorter hours?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

That is it.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is purely a question whether the distribution takes place through the lessening of hours, on the one hand, or the maintenance of hours with the dismissal of some men, on the other. That is the story, as I understand it from the minister, and I must congratulate him upon making it clear.

There is one observation that should be made with respect to the wages of money, anti I am sure that the hon. member for Huron North (Mr. Deachman) did not intend to leave a wrong impression. What was said in this house is strictly accurate. The wages of money with respect to railway securities has continued at a high rate on those securities outstanding and not callable. Unfortunately during the dark days after the war the railways emitted large amounts of securities that bore a moderately high rate of interest and were not callable. The result is that the wages of money has been maintained at a high rate with respect to them, and will so continue unless the owners voluntarily accept a security bearing a lower rate. It is that circumstance to which the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) referred.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The reduction in rates of interest on railway securities is not as rapid as in those on government securities.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It cannot possibly be unless they are callable or unless the owners are willing to accept a lower rate. With respect to certain Grand Trunk Pacific securities and with respect to the income bonds of the Canadian Northern, a settlement was made by the management of the Canadian National and 4 per cent securities were issued. It would be difficult to anticipate that those securities would bear a lower rate than the

C.NJt.-Shop Employees

4 per cent they now carry. With respect to the other securities bearing a rate of 4J and 5 per cent which do not mature for some time, it is difficult to expect that the owners would voluntarily surrender them for securities bearing interest at 3, 3| or 3jj per cent. That is the position to which the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre has referred on more than one occasion in this house, and the hon. member for Huron North will admit that he is strictly accurate in what he said to-day.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Is the right hon. gentleman now interpreting the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No. I am delighted to think that that affords the only amusement hon. gentlemen opposite have had this afternoon.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

If hon. members would learn a little better manners in this house, it would be desirable. I am delighted, Mr. Speaker, that hon. gentlemen opposite have had a little amusement in consequence of the observation made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce. The only point I desire to make is that I was endeavouring not to interpret the observations of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre but to express my appreciation of what he said. He has said it on more than one occasion, and if the Minister of Trade and Commerce did not so understand my remark I very much regret it.

I do not think it serves any useful purpose to discuss at this particular time the pros and cons of government and private ownership. That is not the issue before us, nor is the rate of wages paid the issue, nor the wages of money. Those are not the questions which have to be considered at the present moment. The question is whether or not this house could take any appropriate action to lessen unemployment among that class of people who have been accustomed to security of employment in the work in which they were engaged. The observations made by the Minister of Transport indicate that if the views of the management prevail, there will be no lay-off of anybody in the shops of the Canadian National in this country, but if on the other hand certain other views prevail, the junior men will have to sacrifice their positions. I know this from personal discussion with a large number of men who may be senior employees in the shops of the railway. They have had during the last seven or eight years almost a minimum of employment. During part of that time their employment has been as low as three days a

week. It rose to four and then to five days a week, and during a limited period has been six days a week, or, I believe, forty-four hours in all. Under those circumstances their surplus, if they had any, has long since gone, and they have been endeavouring to save their homes, to pay the interest on their mortgages, and to pay back taxes; in other words, they have been endeavouring to save what they put their money into, their homes, from loss. In Calgary-and I do not think the situation in that city is different from that in almost any other part of Canada-the average railway employee usually puts his money into a home, on which he gives a mortgage. During the dark days these employees were unable to make sufficient money to pay off the mortgage or, sometimes, even the interest, and often they found it difficult to pay the taxes. During the last year or so they have been able to come up more nearly level with their obligations, and now they approach the whole situation with feelings of great apprehension because of their difficult financial position. I think the average man in the city does not realize the plight of many of the employees of the railway. Feeling a certain sense of security in their employment they have built homes and mortgaged them, undertaking to pay certain sums per annum to enable them ultimately to own their homes. One part of the city in which I live was built entirely in that way, and it is certainly an extremely difficult situation that is facing them. But I am hopeful, in the light of what has been said by the minister, it may be possible that none of these men will be laid off; and as we have to find money for capital expenditures it may be possible-I do not know to what extent-to anticipate some of the requirements in order to provide employment for these skilled artisans without whose services this country would be lost. They are skilled shop men; from what I have been told, they are the equal as machinists and otherwise of skilled artisans anywhere else in the world. We cannot afford to lose them, even if there was any place elsewhere for them to find work, and there is none at the present time; nor can we afford to let that deterioration come about which is often the result of long absence from employment.

I do not wish to add anything controversial to this discussion. My attitude in this respect may differ from that of our hon. friends opposite in days long since past; but I have learned from discussion and observation how very acute indeed are conditions in some parts of this country, and anything that this parliament can do to diffuse a little sunshine

C.N.R.-Shop Employees

among these people we must do, not only on their account, but because unless we do it the very fabric of our confederation itself will be destroyed.

Mr. GORDON B. ISNOR (Halifax): Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to take part in this debate particularly because I am obliged to follow such an eloquent speaker as the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), but in fairness to the employment situation on the Canadian National Railways in the province of Nova Scotia, I think I should say a word or two. I do not know the situation at Winnipeg, and therefore I hesitate to mention that city; but I know the situation in our own province, and more particularly in the city of Halifax, and I cannot but express my surprise that some hon. members who have taken part in the debate to-day apparently do not know what the situation is in regard to employment.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

I do not know whether the hon. gentleman who says, "hear, hear," knows what the situation is at the present time in regard to employment on the Canadian National Railways in the city of Halifax.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

Better than you do.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

I certainly do not wish to bring personalities into this discussion; this is not the place for such tactics, and I would not do so if I had not been more or less put on the spot by the hon. member who is referred to as the senior member of a certain constituency. It is immaterial whether he is senior or junior; I do not think that matters very much, because the members are not interested in it.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

I never said so.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

The fact that the member speaking at the present time managed to procure 840 votes more than the senior member does not make the junior member any the less important in the eyes of his constituents.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink
LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

Where did you get them?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO DISCUSS MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE-PROPOSED LAY-OFF OF SHOP EMPLOYEES
Permalink

March 21, 1938