April 4, 1938

CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

In the United States.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

No; in this country. Not only that, but when we examine the improvement in employment conditions in Canada during the past year and a half we find that it has taken place mainly in those industries which received a new stimulus from the trade agreement with the United States. But the government has not by any means been content to let the matter rest there. We have gone from one country to another expressing our willingness to trade with them and we have entered into agreements that have laid a basis, we believe, for continuing expansion of our export trade. I am not suggesting that this trade will not be subject to fluctuations which may follow changes in international conditions; far from it. But I do say that with respect to its trade policies the government has made and is making a definite and practical contribution to the relief of unemployment in Canada and in the only way in the long run which is likely to mean the absorption of unemployed in independent and useful occupations.

I turn to another direction in which the government has stimulated industrial activity in Canada. I referred this afternoon to what had been done during the past two years

under agreements with the provinces looking to the encouragement of the tourist trade. In cooperation with the provinces we have built sections of the trans-Canada highway and have built new and accessible roads to national parks, and now I propose to refer to the stimulus that has been given to the great mining industry by the policies adopted by this administration.

It may be remembered that two years ago it was felt desirable that in order to bring new mines into operation, particularly those mines which were far removed or considerably removed from railway communication, special assistance should be given through the building of roads. That policy was initiated by this government under the direction of the Minister of Mines and Resources (Mr. Crerar). In 1936-37 the dominion made a contribution of 81,272,000 for this purpose and the province contributed $610,000, making a total of something under two million dollars for the improvement and building of mining roads. In 1937-38 the dominion contributed $1,300,000 and the provinces $600,000, again making a contribution of just under two million dollars. The employment created by the expenditure of these sums represents, for 1936-37, man days of work, 353.000, and at least fifty per cent of those working on these projects were taken from relief rolls; and in 1937-38, 332,000 man days, at least fifty per cent being again taken from relief rolls.

It is not possible of course to indicate precisely the effect that these roads have had on increasing mining production. But this at least is true. The roads were carefully selected and built into proved mining areas, and this made it possible for prospectors and mining companies to bring in machinery and, in certain instances, to establish mills which otherwise would not have been set up. In the last three years there has been a remarkable increase in the gold production or mineral production of the country. These are the figures:

1935 $312,000,000

1936 362,000,000

1937 456,000,000

That surely represents again a marked contribution to the relief of the unemployment situation. In that connection I should like to make it clear to the committee that the government assisted the mining industry in more ways than through the construction of roads. It may be recalled that in what I think was the first budget of this administration, additional encouragement was given to

Relief and Agricultural Distress

new mines coming into production. An amendment to the Income War Tax Act provided that all new metalliferous mines coming into production between the first day of May, 1936, and the first day of January, 1940, would be exempt from income tax for a period of three years. Here, too, there can be no question at all that this policy has been of substantial assistance in enabling many small mines to get properly on their feet and go into production. These mines have swelled the total production to which I referred a moment ago.

May I also refer to what has been done, partly for the relief of those in need and partly for the stimulation of a great industry, by another department of the government. I refer to the Department of Fisheries. The fishing population in certain provinces has passed through very difficult times; yet despite conditions of poverty with which many members of this committee must be familiar these fishing families in Quebec and the maritime provinces were most reluctant to go on direct relief. They have, in many instances, a very low standard of living. Anyone who is familiar with the work they carry on cannot but feel that no class of people in this country is more deserving of our consideration than these fishermen. This government took special measures to deal with the needs of our fishing, population. Out of the appropriation of the Department of Fisheries for the fiscal year 1936-37, some 8200,000 was spent, in cooperation with the provinces concerned, in order to aid in the reestablishment of needy fishermen in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. From the joint fund provided by the dominion and .the respective provinces 6,649 loans to fishermen and 22 loans to fishermen's associations were made in the maritime provinces, while in Quebec some 8,930 fishermen received grants. During the last fiscal year, under another appropriation, the sum of 8400,000 was used for the same purposes.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

Was any of this money expended in behalf of the fishermen in British Columbia?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I understand that British Columbia did not accept the scheme. Presumably it was not accepted because in the view of the British Columbia government the provisions of assistance as offered did not seem to have the same appeal there. In addition, the Department of Fisheries, through stimulus to marketing, has helped improve the condition of the fishing industry. Under those

policies there has been a steady and substantial increase in the value of the exports of fish. I shall give just a few rough figures of the value of exports:

1935 1936 1937

Fresh and frozen

halibut $231,000 $418,000 $454,000

Fresh and frozen

salmon

466,000 707,000 548,000Whale oil

98,000 127,000 148,000

In these several references to the expansion of trade and of industrial activity in certain directions under the policies of this administration I have indicated a substantial enlargement of opportunity for employment. I now propose to give the committee-and with this I shall conclude-a statement, based upon registration, of the unemployment condition in Canada at the present time. I give first, the figures for January, from the registration branch, the registration which was set up by the national employment commission, but which will be continued now in connection with the Department of Labour.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Are those figures based on the original computations made by the commission, or is a fresh census taken of the unemployed on each occasion?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The answer to that is this: The first general registration made by the national employment commission was in September, 1936. The forms, which required a great deal of careful preparation, were then determined upon, and from that time forward the various provinces and municipalities have maintained a continuous correction of the figures from month to month. Each month the registration branch receives these reports from the provinces and municipalities. There is of necessity, as I pointed out some time ago, a time lag in the receipt of the information at Ottawa.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

And it cannot be complete.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I think it can be as complete as any figures that could be obtained.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Except census figures.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Except census figures; but there again the trouble with census figures, as the leader of the opposition is aware, is that because of the magnitude of the task you do not get the figures until much later, and then they do not represent an existing situation. It may be remembered that last year the United States set apart an amount of something like $5,000,000, or possibly more, for a census of the unemployed. The census was taken through the post office, and when it was completed the head of the census, who was a prominent industrialist in the United

Relief and Agricultural Distress

States, acknowledged that he could not say definitely whether the unemployed numbered

7,500,000 or 10,000,000. There was that much uncertainty. The figures, moreover, were not available until some months later, and it just happened that those were months when there was a marked increase in unemployment in the United States, which was known to everybody. I think the method of registration which we have in operation at the present time is as effective as could be devised under the circumstances. Certainly it enables us, within what I acknowledge is some margin of error, to determine the fluctuations in the actual conditions.

To return to my original statement, in January, 1938, fully employable persons on aid numbered 161,000. In relation to our population that figure is far less than the United States figure, and I believe I am correct in saying that it is proportionately less than the figure of unemployed in Great Britain, despite the great industrial activity now existing in that country.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

Are these the numbers of unemployed receiving relief?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Yes; I am now dealing with the unemployed on relief.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

That does not give a picture of the unemployment situation.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

It gives a picture of the unemployment situation in so far as it is a relief problem at the present time.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

But the figure

given by the minister is not comparable with the figure for Great Britain.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Otherwise what we would have-and I have referred to them from time to time-would be the estimates made by the bureau of statistics. Those estimates are based, in part, upon returns from the trade unions; in part, upon the annual increase in population, and in part, upon the figures which come in with respect to relief. They are estimates and no more.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. HEAPS:

The minister just tried to compare the figure he gave with the figures for Great Britain. Those figures cannot be compared.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I believe my hon. friend is correct in that, and I acknowledge it fully. What I am giving now is the number of the fully employable on relief. The total number of persons on aid, other than agricultural aid, including employable, unemployable and non-worker dependents, or, in other words, including children up to the age of

sixteen, and wives, was 604,000, in January, 1938, according to unrevised figures. Farm population on agricultural aid shows a figure of 410,000. That is a significant figure, and one to which I shall refer in a moment. It is a reflection of the vast drought conditions in Saskatchewan. Then, there is a comparision of January, 1938, with January 1937, and December 1937. I should like to place those figures on Hansard, because at this time I think it is of the utmost importance that we should know what the situation is, as reflected by registration figures.

For January, 1938, fully employable persons showed a decrease of thirty-seven per cent from January, 1937. From December, 1937, the number of fully employable persons showed an increase of about seven per cent. All persons on non-agricultural aid in January, 1938, showed a decrease of thirty per cent from January, 1937. From December, 1937, to January, 1938, there was an increase of seven per cent in non-agricultural aid. Agricultural aid in January, 1938, showed an increase of 103 per cent over January, 1937. Of the January, 1938, total on agricultural aid, approximately eighty-nine per cent were located in Saskatchewan. Those are general figures, covering the entire dominion.

It seemed to me there might be some advantage in breaking down those figures of the unemployed on relief in the various geographical and industrial areas of the country. I believe I shall be able to convince the committee of the significance of such a break-down. It lies in the fact that we have conditions operating in British Columbia different from those in the maritime provinces, and conditions in the prairie provinces during the last seven years have been entirely different from those obtaining, let us say, in the great industrial provinces of central Canada.

I have had this statement prepared in order to show the changes which have taken place in these different areas from January, 1936, to January, 1937, and again from January, 1937, to January, 1938. I have divided Canada into four economic zones, namely the maritime provinces, central Canada, the prairie provinces and British Columbia, and I suggest there are sound reasons for so dividing them. The total numbers of all domestic classifications of persons on aid in January, 1938, compared with January 1936, showed reductions in three zones. There was a reduction of thirty-two per cent, or about a third, in British Columbia; 49-7 per cent in the central provinces, and 83-6 per cent

Relief and Agricultural Distress

in the maritime provinces. Only the prairie provinces showed an increase, and one to the extent of 49-7 per cent.

Material aid-that is, aid exclusive of agricultural aid-showed reductions in all areas, with the exception of the prairie provinces. The dominion reduction was 38-7 per cent. That in British Columbia was 29-7 per cent; in central Canada it was 45T per cent, and in the maritime provinces, 78-4 per cent. Agricultural aid showed a net increase for the dominion, from January, 1936, to January, 1938, of twenty-nine per cent. This was wholly accounted for by farm distress in Saskatchewan. The net increase in the prairie provinces over the two years was 83-8 per cent; but the three remaining areas showed reductions in agricultural aid of 44-9 per cent in British Columbia, 88-1 per cent in central Canada and 97-1 per cent in the maritime provinces.

With respect to these different areas, it is quite clear that particularly in the maritime provinces there has been what might be termed a virtual return to normal economic conditions. We have here a reduction, since this government took office, amounting to over eighty per cent of the relief problem, and it may be recalled that in the speech from the throne delivered in Nova Scotia this year, the explicit statement was made that there had been a reduction from 75,000 on relief in Nova Scotia in 1933 to 6,500 at the present time. Surely that is a remarkable improvement.

In New Brunswick direct relief is no longer being given. That province, however, is giving assistance to unemployed in need through what might be termed a works-test program, to which the dominion government has given a contribution.

The problem has been reduced by one-third in British Columbia during the period I have indicated. In the last two years the problem in the central provinces has been almost cut in half. In the prairie provinces, of course, there has been this unfortunate increase in the numbers receiving agricultural aid. And may I say this, while referring to conditions in the prairie provinces, that of course the increase in those receiving relief has been mainly due to the prolonged drought. The problem in the western provinces has never been susceptible to general economic influences, in the sense in which it has in the other provinces. I believe it is important that we recognize that fact.

As I said this afternoon-and it is acknowledged by everyone-there is every reason why

we should seek the truth in these matters; but we should be sure it is the truth, and we should not speak of an unemployment problem as one including those suffering from continued drought conditions. We should not feel that we are not making progress with respect to employment simply because there is a continuance of those receiving agricultural relief in the drought areas.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I hope the minister does not intend to convey that there is no unemployment relief in the western provinces.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

No; I am, coming to that.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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April 4, 1938