March 15, 1939


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. C. G. MacNEIL (Vancouver North):

I desire to direct a question to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). Has the Air Defence Council of Canada communicated with the Prime Minister requesting the resignation of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) because of unsatisfactory conditions with regard to air defence, as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press of March 10 in a news dispatch over the signature of Major Moore?

Topic:   REPORTED REQUEST OF ADVISORY AIR COUNCIL FOR RESIGNATION OF MINISTER
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I submit that is not a question which should be asked on the orders of the day, nor do I think it is a question that requires an answer. I would however say to my hon. friend that I have had no communication of the kind mentioned, and if I had I would answer it pretty sharply.

Topic:   REPORTED REQUEST OF ADVISORY AIR COUNCIL FOR RESIGNATION OF MINISTER
Permalink

UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES


Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to bring in a measure to provide assistance in the alleviation of unemployment and agricultural distress and for such purpose to authorize the execution of undertakings in the general interest of Canada and requisite for the purposes of the act, out of moneys appropriated by parliament, and also to provide financial assistance to the provinces by way of loan, advance or guarantee, out of unappropriated moneys in the consolidated revenue fund, and for the appointment of necessary officers, clerks and employees. He said: We listened a few moments ago to a speech by the hon. member for St. Antoine-Westmount (Mr. White) which will be remembered and treasured by all who heard it. As one of the younger members of the House of Commons I should like to extend my own good wishes and to express the hope that the hon. member may enjoy long years of happiness and usefulness to this country. His presence here has been a benediction, and the example of his public life an inspiration to all of us. In other years when a resolution similar to this has been before the house I have presented a brief survey of the relief situation resulting from unemployment and agricultural distress, and a more detailed statement of the results obtained under the various measures adopted by the government to deal with unemployment in its various aspects. I intend to follow the same course to-day. When the legislation which will follow the adoption of this resolution is presented a little later, there will be further opportunity to answer questions and provide additional information on questions of policy and administration. The first part of my task is simplified by the fact that during the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne I dealt at some length with the statistics of relief and unemployment, and placed upon the record a number of tables based upon the national registration of relief recipients which was commenced under the national employment commission in September, 1936. Since that debate closed, figures have become available for later months, and I intend to place those figures before the house. Before presenting a statistical survey of the relief situation, however, I want to take strong objection at this time to certain glaring distortions of the true position which have appeared from time to time in some of our newspapers and periodicals. I do so because I believe that responsibility and freedom go hand in hand; and freedom of the press becomes an empty phrase unless it is directed to the service of truth and the destruction of error. So far as relief and unemployment are concerned my position from the beginning has been that it was the part of wisdom to search out and present the truth, however 1914 COMMONS Unemployment and Agricultural Distress unpleasant it might be. Only by doing so can we know as a government the full measure of the task before us. With that object in view we provided for a national registration of those in receipt of relief; and from the commencement of that registration we have published a monthly press release giving a summary of the latest available figures, with a comparison with the figures in the preceding month and also the same month in the preceding year. Those figures have separated agricultural aid from unemployment aid, and have also separated employables from heads of families and individuals who were dependent and unemployable. With the regular publication of these figures obtained through the national registration it has been possible to follow the changing trends of the relief situation from month to month and year to year. But the fact that these figures have been available has not prevented certain newspapers and periodicals from grossly distorting the true picture. Repeated references to "over. a million persons on unemployment relief" were being given wide publicity in September last, when 553,111 persons across Canada were registered as receiving material aid; and that number included children and aged dependents, unemployable and partially employable persons as well as farmers and their families, whose needs certainly did not arise from any lack of work. Actually at that time the employable persons being assisted numbered 114,460; yet .we read of "hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers on relief." Perhaps no subject related to unemployment has been exposed to more misrepresentation than that of the transients. In January of this year a Canadian periodical, Maclean's magazine, in a leading editorial stated: This month, at least 80,000 Canadians will be wandering back and forth across the country, without homes, without work, without definite relief status. And this, the editorial stated, was a conservative estimate. No information was furnished as to the source of the estimate. Not to be outdone, a few days later one of the daily papers came out in an editorial with the information that there are said to be anywhere from 100,000 to 185,000 transients in Canada. Here again no indication was given as to who said there were such numbers. As a matter of fact, from a survey conducted by the Department of Labour in January information was obtained from reliable sources, the provincial governments and the two railway companies, showing that outside of those being cared for by the joint federal and provincial plan the transients, as fMr Rogers.] defined in Maclean's magazine, numbered less than ten thousand, I want to refer to another figure, again grossly distorted, that has been given wide currency in this country. It has been said that the number of idle young people in the country has reached a total of over 400,000. So far as I have been able to discover, that figure originated in a census survey, so-called, conducted by the Canadian Youth Congress. I do not for a moment question the motives of those who conducted this survey. The Canadian Youth Congress believes that there is a serious youth problem in this country, and I do not question that there is such a problem. What I do question is the technique of research which was adopted by those who made this astonishing computation of over 400,000 idle young people in Canada. Let me indicate briefly to the house, if I may, just what follows the publication of a figure of this kind. When the Canadian Youth Congress issued this figure it was made quite clear, for example, that it included young women as well as young men. But I have seen many a headline, arising from that survey, suggesting that there were 400,000 idle young men in Canada. Surely no one would suggest for a moment that the publication of information of that kind, unless it is based upon most authoritative evidence, can do other than harm not only to this country but to the very group whom the Canadian Youth Congress desire to serve. I have in mind, for example, an article which appeared in the Philadelphia Enquirer, a newspaper published in the United States, which has a wide circulation. This is the headline, bearing out what I said a moment ago: 450,000 Idle Youths Pose Grave Problem for Canada. Then it goes on to explain that this information was obtained from a census survey conducted by the Canadian Youth Congress. I think it may be worth while to spend just a moment or so to explain how this total was arrived at. In the first place it was not a census survey in the strict sense of that term. It was not even a sample census survey, based upon the actual investigation of conditions in any one city or group of cities. It was merely a computation obtained by a series of arbitrary deductions from the total number of young Canadians between the ages of fifteen and thirty, as given in the census of 1931. And I am informed, I believe reliably, that after making the various deductions, the figure of 465,000 remained. Remember, it includes those from fifteen to thirty years of age; but it Unemployment and Agricultural Distress also includes those within that age group who are living on farms in this country. The explanation given to me was that these young people are hot regarded as being gainfully employed. Well, Mr. Speaker, I did not have the good fortune to be brought up on a farm, but I have had some experience with farming operations; and to suggest that those included in this total who are living on farms in this country are not gainfully employed is surely a wide exaggeration of the truth.


UFOL

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

They are employed,

but not gainfully; there is a distinction.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

But

they are not idle.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
UFOL

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

No. They are employed, but they are not paid.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Donald Elmer Black

Liberal

Mrs. BLACK:

I would suggest to the minister that I know they get their living on the farms.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Certainly. Surely there

cannot be any question with regard to the danger-and I use that word advisedly-of having gross exaggerations of the unemployment situation spread about this and other countries in such terms as I have just described. If newspaper editors wish to criticize those charged with responsibility for unemployment and relief, they are perfectly free to do so. I do not want it to be thought for one minute that in what I have said just now I take the slightest objection to criticism of policy. But I do take the ground very strongly that one cannot separate freedom from responsibility, and I suggest that those who write these editorials or who use these figures ought, before they are published, to take some reasonable care. If they do not use the official figures, then they might very well provide in the article itself the source of the information they have obtained.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

Have we any official source?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

So far as criticism is concerned, may I say that I would think the millennium had come if newspaper editors refrained from criticism.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. LANDERYOU:

Has the minister any figures to give us?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Yes. I will proceed to that presently, if my hon. friend will just be patient.

Freedom of criticism does not imply the right to misrepresent and distort facts upon which complaints are based. To do so is not an attack on governments; in effect, it is an attack on the country. Its result cannot be otherwise than to undermine confidence

at home and abroad. I suggest further that it does damage to the country in much the same way as a gross exaggeration of casualties would do damage to the country, if it were engaged in war.

As I said a moment ago, I shall now turn to the latest available figures on unemployment and relief, from the national registration.

I shall place these figures before the house; and after having done so, I am going to make some comparisons between the totals of the various classifications this year and this month, and in previous years.

Preliminary figures showed that the grand total of all classes of persons on urban and agricultural aid in January was 978,000, an increase of almost eight per cent over the December figure, as revised to date, but 3-7 per cent less than in January, 1938. The dominion total of unemployed but fully employable persons on aid in January of this year was 180,000. representing an increase of eleven per cent from the December total of 162,000. The figure for January of this year represented an increase of nearly seven per cent over that for January a year ago. A total of 662,000 persons were receiving nonagricultural aid in January of this year, or 9J per cent more than in the previous month. This category includes all totally unemployable, partly employable and fully employable persons, together with all dependents and family heads. This aggregate shows a net increase of about five per cent from the figure for January, 1938.

Although unemployed persons receiving aid showed, as usual, a seasonal increase from December to January, and brought the January total above that of the same month in 1938, the grand total of persons of all classes in receipt of aid showed a decrease from the year before. The number of farmers and members of their families in receipt of agricultural aid continues to show a decline from the year before. Some 67,000 farmers who, together with their dependents, account for a farm population of 316,000, were reported as receiving agricultural aid for subsistence in January. Of these persons 270,500 were located in Saskatchewan alone. The dominion total on agricultural aid, while up 4-3 per cent in January over December's revised figure, was almost eighteen per cent less than in January, 1938. The January total of farmers and their families on aid in Saskatchewan, while continuing to hold the improvement over the total a year ago, increased by three per cent over the total for December, 1938, but was still more than nineteen per cent lower than in January a year ago.

1916 COMMONS

Unemployment and Agricultural Distress

Briefly, one may say with respect to agricultural aid that in the past year there has been some improvement. With respect to urban aid, which may more properly be called unemployment aid, there has been an increase in the total number. That applies also to the total of those on aid, in so far as unemployment is concerned, including also their dependents.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

Is the minister in a position to give the house the number who at present are unemployed and not on relief?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Well, Mr. Speaker, this matter has been discussed time and again in the house-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

It is very important.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I shall be pleased indeed to take note of the question of my hon. friend, but all that we have with respect to the number of those unemployed is, as he well knows, an estimate which is prepared on an index basis by the bureau of statistics, and which is made available from month to month.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink
?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

Like the youth congress

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Permalink

March 15, 1939