June 24, 1940


The house resumed from Friday, June 21, consideration in committee of Bill No. 42, to assist in the alleviation of unemployment and agricultural distress - Mr. McLarty - Mr. Fournier, (Hull), in the chair. On section 3-Agreements with provinces and others.


LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. N. A. McLARTY (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Chairman, may I take this

opportunity to make a brief statement? On Friday last the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) referred to the estimate of expenditures on direct relief for this year, and compared it with the amount allocated last year. I told him at the time that the estimate was predicated on figures supplied by the municipalities to the provinces, which in turn were passed on to us. In this connection I should like to give such information as I have available.

As I pointed out previously, our contribution of forty per cent will remain unchanged in Saskatchewan, and our estimate is necessarily based upon figures supplied by the municipalities to the province, and by the province to us. I know the committee will appreciate the difficulty of making a definite estimate, more especially for Saskatchewan, where so much depends on weather conditions. Of

course we will maintain the forty per cent

ratio, even though it may require the payment of an amount somewhat larger than we at present estimate. Last year the total payment to Saskatchewan by the Department of Labour, representing the 40 per cent contribution to direct relief, amounted to $2,645,729.29. On January 11 of this year Saskatchewan suggested the closest estimate they could make would be $2,665,000, based on the forty per cent contribution arrangement. This included a small amount, not exceeding $40,000, for a provision in the agreement under which the dominion government pays fifty per cent of the cost in respect to persons who have no provincial residential qualifications.

Under date of April 16 the provincial director of relief advised the Department of Labour as follows:

We have already experienced a very substantial improvement in relief conditions due to improved crop conditions and the resultant improvement in economic conditions generally. I feel that further substantial reductions in relief costs will be possible in the next two or three months, but from that point on it is most difficult to make any forecast because the crop harvested next fall will determine, to a great extent, the extent of our relief requirements.

And again:

I may say for your information that we have had some heavy snow falls recently that have greatly improved moisture conditions all over the province, and while we are experiencing a very late spring, conditions now look fairly promising.

Since then the forecasts for the early months of the year have been fully substantiated; for example, in April and May of the current year the number on urban relief in Saskatchewan was down 44 per cent as compared

Unemployment Relief

with the same months in 1939. The number on agricultural relief decreased by about 65 per cent in comparison with last year. This will necessarily involve corresponding reductions in relief costs.

With the factors I have mentioned as to the uncertainty of weather conditions and the information from the province as to the wide reduction in the numbers in receipt of direct relief, the closest estimate that the department can make as to the amount which will have to be paid to the province of Saskatchewan in the current year is approximately $2,000,000.

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Mr. Chairman, while the bill was in the resolution stage I endeavoured to give the Minister of Labour (Mr. McLarty) a picture of conditions as they existed in Nova Scotia at that particular time, and which made the payment of relief necessary. I want to make a few remarks on section 3 of this bill, which deals specifically with the agreements which are to be made between the federal government and the provinces.

Relief in Nova Scotia has been practically discontinued from March 31. My reason for rising at this time is to refer to a letter which I received from one of the town councillors of Glace Bay. This municipality is faced with a potential unemployment problem. At present there is a considerable number of unemployed in the town. This gentleman enclosed with his letter a press statement which had been given by the mayor during a recent meeting of the town council. I should like to quote from that press statement, as follows:

The request that R. H. McKay, deputy minister of labour, come here as soon as possible to confer with the council on the relief situation and get something arranged early w-as made at the town council last night after the mayor had read a letter from Mr. McKay stating that no more direct relief aid might be received from the federal government.

Mr. McKay's letter said that no assistance had been received from the federal government from April 1 and if there was none coming the provincial government would be unable to assist and the whole burden of direct relief would be placed on the town.

And further down:

In March there were 196 heads of families with 559 dependents and 73 other individuals on direct relief, three per cent of the population.

Some decision had recently been made by the federal government on direct relief, Mayor Morrison stated, but no agreement had yet come forth. Unless some aid came soon the end was in sight as the town couldn't hope to carry on the burden alone.

In other places there was a great deal of war work going on but the war had made no improvement here; in fact it was worse here now than at this time last year.

I know that statement is true. There are two mines in this district which are gradually being closed. The ranks of the unemployed are being added to weekly, and there are no war industries being carried on. As a result, unemloyment in this particular section is increasing. I received a letter this morning from the secretary of the United Mine Workers of America, an organization which represents 12,000 miners in Nova Scotia. He asks me to bring the situation to the attention of the Minister of Labour, since it is something which directly affects that department. It also dovetails into the question of unemployment relief. I may say that this morning I took the matter up with the deputy minister of the department and was informed that the situation described in this letter is true. There has been no change since the letter was written on June 21, 1940. It is addressed to me and reads:

This is for your information, and I hope you will bring to the attention of parliament the difficulty we in Nova Scotia are having in getting a conciliation board appointed.

On May 3 we made application for a conciliation board for the employees of the Old Sydney Collieries Limited at Sydney Mines, and the employees of the Acadia Coal Company at Stellarton, who are members of district No. 26, United Mine Workers of America. On May 6 we received the following reply:

He then quotes a number of telegrams which passed back and forth between the mine workers and the Department of Labour. I shall not take the time to read these, but will quote further from the letter:

You will note by these telegrams that Mr. Forsythe and Mr. Muise were appointed June 3. After Mr. Muise was notified of his appointment, he immediately got in touch with Mr. Forsythe and submitted the names of eight persons, prominent Nova Scotians, any one of whom he would be agreeable to act as chairman of the board. Mr. Muise was in telephone conversation with Mr. Forsythe, and Mr. Forsythe would not agree to any one of these men. He gave no reasons for not agreeing. neither did he submit any names himself. Since that time we are awaiting the appointment of a chairman.

The men effected are complaining to the executive officers continuously, asking why the *board is not functioning, and it is hard for the district officers to make them believe that it is being held up on account of the appointment of a chairman. This slowness of action is having a very bad effect here. _ You know the wages these men are receiving, both in the Sydney Mines and Acadia districts, and they have been working for a considerable period without a contract. No action can be taken until the conciliation board has first heard their case. I have already explained to you details in connection with the application we made for a board for the Sydney and Louisburg railway.

I trust you will bring this to the attention of the Minister of Labour, for if boards are to have the desired effect in Nova Scotia they

Unemployment Relief

must be able to function more promptly than in this case where application was made on May 3 and up to June 21 no notification of the board having been set up was received; that is, up to date, no chairman has been appointed to act in this capacity.

Mr. Muise, our representative on the board, carried out his part and submitted the names, while the company's representative did not submit any names and gave no reason for his not accepting any of the men whom Mr. Muise was willing to accept. The following are the names of men whom Mr. Muise submitted, any one^ of whom would be acceptable to him as chairman of the board.

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I do not think my hon. friend should read those names. If as Minister of Labour I am to act upon a recommendation by Mr. Muise as to various representatives on the board, then the names should not be known.

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

The names which Mr. Muise submitted?

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I do not think it would be fair to tell me that, let alone make it known to the committee. If with that knowledge I selected one of those names, the operators might contend that I did so because I had been asked to do it. I have been very careful in selecting the chairman of a board, where a chairman cannot be agreed upon.

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

That is the point at issue. The operators absolutely refuse to accept any of these men.

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

That, of course, is their privilege. The operators do not have to make a selection from some panel that is submitted by the local union, and on the other hand the union does not have to make a selection from some panel submitted by the operators. If they can agree upon a chairman, very well; if they cannot agree, it is iny duty as Minister of Labour to appoint a chairman.

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

The point Mr. McKay had in mind in writing was that the application has been pending now for two months, and the workers' contracts have expired.

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I understood the hon. member to say May 23?

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Yes, and this is the latter part of June. Their contracts expired eighteen months ago. It is felt that the operators in Nova Scotia are taking advantage of the war and the men's desire to continue at work, instead of using their only weapon, which is the strike, and that the operators are simply dragging this thing along. There is absolutely no reason why the names that have been submitted should not be acceptable. They are the names of lawyers and judges, not connected with labour in any shape or form.

One of them, in fact, is a coal company official. There is no reason why the operators should take this attitude. Their refusal to accept a chairman simply means that the thing is dragging along and they are keeping wages where they are as long as they possibly can, taking advantage of the war situation. What Mr. McKay is afraid of, and what I am afraid of, is that the miners in these two sections are going to be forced into a false position through being compelled to strike regardless of the war.

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

Has the board not been

set up? Is it not merely awaiting a chairman?

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

It has taken since May 3

to decide upon a chairman, and I think it is prettly nearly time for the Department of Labour to select a chairman.

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

Alphonse Fournier

Liberal

The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Fournier, Hull):

The hon. member is out of order.

We are discussing section 3, which concerns agreements with provinces and others.

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

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

The reason why I brought

this matter up was that by reason of the dispute the miners of these two sections may be on the government's hands, unemployed, if something is not speedily done. I am through with that subject, Mr. Chairman.

Another matter which I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister of Labour is unemployment among the fishermen of Nova Scotia. There are approximately 40,000 fishermen in our province, and the fisherman can very well be termed the forgotten man. Almost every phase of our economic life is discussed in practically all groups where any talking is done, yet the fisherman is seldom mentioned. I know that the federal government is assisting in the establishment of cooperatives. It has made a generous gesture in that connection which is appreciated very much, but on the whole the plight of the fisherman is deplorable. What I am concerned about is the contributing factors which put the fisherman in this plight, because, apart from direct relief, there are measures which could be taken that would be of material assistance to the fisherman.

In the town of Glace Bay, for example, a man whose earnings are $200 or $300 a year is practically on relief 365 days a year. The harbour at Glace Bay is in such a condition that it is retarding the fishing industry of that town. The harbour master of Glace Bay has written me a letter in which he sets out the facts. But first let me say that if the fishermen in that section do not receive assistance in the form of harbour improvements this season, the chances are that the harbour will have to be closed. Considerable correspondence

Unemployment Relief

with regard to the matter has been, carried on with the Department of Public Works, but apparently nothing has been done. I should like to read this letter from the harbour master. He starts by wanting me to take a look at Glace Bay harbour. He says:

This harbour, the most eastern in all Canada, is directly on the Cabot strait and the easiest to make of any harbour on the east coast. It is 97 feet wide and 1,000 feet long, with wharf facilities of 400 feet on its north side.

At this date the entrance channel is less than 9 feet deep at low water. Our tides are never more than 34 to 4 feet. The channel needs dredging. The bottom is muck, and the whole harbour could be deeped to 15 feet in two or three weeks' dredging.

He goes on to speak of the lobster season, and then has this to say of the swordfishing season, which is more important.

The swordfishing season commences about the middle of July, when an average of 150 boats made this harbour their headquarters. Large collection boats follow the swordfish catch and need 13 to 15 feet of water.

With a channel only 9 feet deep at the present time, these boats are not going to be able to use the harbour. He goes on to say that some 100 Newfoundland two-masted fishing schooners as well as lumber vessels and produce vessels also use this harbour, and he continues:

If the harbour is not dredged at once it may have to be abandoned for 1940.

That is a serious situation facing the fishing industry in that section, where a fleet of 400 vessels are now outfitting to fish on the adjacent banks. He goes on to point out the possibilities for the fishing industry in that section by reason of European fishing being disrupted by the war. It should be possible to assist in the development of this fishing industry and enable it to take care of markets which now cannot be supplied from the other side of the Atlantic, where the war has disrupted the fishing industry.

I also wish to speak of conditions at Port Morien. I have received a complaint from there, and if the matter complained of were remedied it would help to relieve unemployment. About 150 boats go out of Port Morien district. A factory is established there and a certain amount of lobster fishing is done. The man who owns the factory will also buy fish of all kinds, but he has no storage facilities. According to my information, application has been made on two or three occasions for permission to establish a fish shed on the breakwater at Port Morien. At the present time men in that section lose two or three days' fishing a week because there are no storage facilities there. If permission were granted to establish a fish shed on the breakwater, these fishermen could get three or four

days' fishing a week after the lobster fishing is over, instead of having to stay at home and seek relief.

These factors, all of which enter into unemployment, are matters which the Department of Labour should check up on, in order that, if at all possible, by the government providing the facilities which are required, these men would be able to carry on fishing operations. The fishermen in this way would be kept off direct relief, which is something they do not want if work can be had. I am sure that aetion by the department would help to relieve the situation in the different places I have mentioned.

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

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

I

understand that dependants of people interned receive relief on a higher scale sometimes than Canadians on relief. Can the minister say whether that is the situation or not?

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I have no definite figures before me because the internment camps do not come under my department. We have to do with direct relief, but I shall be glad to make inquiry. I should be very much surprised if it were true, but I cannot answer the question offhand.

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

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

I was informed over the week-end that the dependents of some of the Italians and Germans were receiving relief, and, in some instances, more than Canadians were receiving.

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

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I shall be glad to look into that.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Those of us who come from Saskatchewan are glad to have the clear statement which the minister made this afternoon with reference to the situation in that province, because we have been considerably perturbed about it, and an impression has gone abroad to the effect that the federal government had actually intimated that there would be a reduction. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) used the phrase the other day that between the federal, provincial and municipal bodies there was "considerable passing of the buck", and probably that is the best description which can be given of what has actually occurred. The minister then made this statement:

The municipality is the first authority upon which is placed the responsibility of saying whether or not there is going to be any further relief. For that very reason the municipality is ask to pay 20 per cent of the cost of relief. Somebody, some time, has to begin to stop it; after the municipality has had its say, the province has its chance, and this government, as well as the previous government, has in most instances accepted the statement from the municipality, . . .

Unemployment Relief

While on paper that may be what ought to happen, it is not what happened. It is true that when application is being made for relief, the person desiring relief goes to the municipal authorities; they in turn make application to the provincial government; and they in turn to the federal government. But when relief is stopped, its cessation is not instituted by the municipal body. In fact every day there come to my desk, and no doubt to those of other hon. members, letters from reeves of municipal councils pointing out that when a meeting is held the provincial relief officer merely intimates to them that they will have to cut down the orders a certain percentage this month. In some instances it has been intimated to them that the government will not be able to pay the councils anything in a certain month. The initiative does not lie with municipal councils. They are merely told what the pattern is for the particular month and they have to cut their cloth accordingly. There may be a reason for that. Probably the provincial government has only a limited amount of money which it can spend for relief in the particular month. But I think it is an erroneous impression to give that the municipal body decides that relief will be cut and so notifies the provincial government, and they in turn the federal government.

Regarding the minister's statement to-day, and in view of the stand which, I know, most of these municipal bodies have taken-for the fact of the matter is that the reductions which have occurred in Saskatchewan have to a large extent been the result of the financial condition of the province-I am convinced that the minister's statement will be welcomed when he says that the federal government will be prepared to continue to pay forty per cent, as they have done in other years, and that, contrary to what was feared, no maximum limit will be set.

Could I now ask the minister, unless the question would more appropriately come under the next section, whether the government has decided to abandon the farm placement scheme? It has not been used this year. Has it been decided to abandon it completely?

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

June 24, 1940