March 12, 1941

LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Last night the leader of

the opposition (Mr. Hanson) asked if I would have certain figures broken down and placed on Hansard. I hope to be able to do that to-morrow. It was not possible to have it completed for this afternoon.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I do not intend this

afternoon to engage the attention of the committee with a discussion of expenditures provided in the appropriation bill for the Department of Labour, nor is it my intention to deal with matters of general labour policy.

I propose to devote myself entirely to the remarks which were made on Monday afternoon last by the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis). I regret I was not present during the earlier, in fact during the major portion of his remarks. When I entered the chamber, however, I found that he was in a rather critical mood.

I felt that when I read Hansard I would find that in the earlier part of his address he had unquestionably been kindly and fair. Imagine my disappointment when, after reading his remarks, I found that they had been equally critical in the first as in the concluding section of his address to the committee. He went so far as to suggest that the Department of Labour might well be fused with the department headed by my colleague to my left, the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe).

The hon. member went so far as to say that throughout Canada to-day unrest was rampant among labour organizations and among working people. I suggest that if the unrest were as great as the hon. gentleman's informants have led him to believe, there might be some definite and tangible evidence of that unrest; yet it is gratifying to know that throughout Canada, from coast to coast, notwithstanding the wide increase in industrial activity due undoubtedly to the war, there is not a single strike in Canada to-day-not one. The closest approximation we have had to a strike is to

be seen in rumours carried in the press with reference to some unfortunate decision in a hockey game in Cape Breton, on the strength of which some of the coal miners of the district thought it might be their duty to go on strike. They did not, however, and the .production of coal is still going on.

The hon. member attributed this suggested unrest to lack of cooperation between employers and labour and lack of cooperation between the government and labour. There are throughout Canada 12,500 employers of labour. I fancy it would not be difficult to find in that number some who do not cooperate in a proper way with the working people in their employ. It would be remarkable were the situation otherwise, and one of the difficulties which the Department of Labour has constantly to meet is the fact that some employers do not cooperate to the extent they should with their own working people. When, however, the hon. member suggests lack of cooperation on the part of the government, I should like to indicate briefly the extent to which that cooperation has been given since the war commenced.

In the first place, the very day that war broke out we appointed the war-time prices and trade board. What was its purpose? Its purpose was fundamentally to maintain real as against nominal wages and to keep the cost of living at a point where working people would not be penalized as they were in the last war by a rapid ascent in living costs. We went further and, at the request of labour, extended the scope of the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act. Let me make it clear that the extension of that act under order in council to all war industries was made at the specific request of labour.

On June 19 last we passed an order in council in which the government set out the principles they considered should govern the relationship between employer and employee in the war period. I know it has been suggested by the hon. member for Vancouver East that the order in council, not being coercive, not being mandatory, did not go far enough; but I would suggest to the committee that this order in council was approved by organized labour before it was passed by the government. Incidentally to that, we appointed the national labour supply council.

What was its purpose? It was to endeavour to maintain on an even keel the relationship between industry and labour in this country.

War Appropriation Bill

It was a unique experiment. For the first time in our history we brought together the three great union organizations of the country to sit round the same table-the Trades and Labour Congress, the Canadian Congress of Labour and the Catholic Federation of Workers. In addition to that, for the first time in the history of the country, on an advisory council industry and labour sat with their feet under the same table to deal with the problems which the war necessarily entails.

We went further. WThen it was suggested that the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, in connection with the construction industry in so far as fixed rates were concerned, was not being observed we passed, at the request of labour, an order in council stating that in the event of employers not observing the wages fixed by the Department of Labour in the construction industry, the moneys thereby saved by the contractor would be paid into the consolidated revenue fund, and it would be the duty of the deputy minister of labour to see that the parties who could not possibly be found otherwise be located and the money paid to them. In addition to that, we passed an order in council, P.C. 7440, which was designed to help labour and to help our general economic structure. This order in council was passed after it had been given the unanimous approval of the national labour supply council. This was done in order to prevent repetition of the circumstances that arose in the last war, where in that general spiral, rise of wages and cost of living, the cost of living won. It was done with the purpose of stabilizing our whole economy in war time. But the point I want to make, having regard to the suggestion of the hon. member for Vancouver East as to lack of cooperation in connection with that order in council, is that the order in council before it was passed had the approval of the national labour supply council.

The hon. member suggested that in dealing with that council labour had only a small representation. When I pointed out to him that it had a representation equal to that of industry, in its origin five of each, later increased by two representing the railways and the running trades-fifty per cent representation-he said, "But they are never consulted." I do not think there has been a matter of major labour policy on which the national labour supply council has not been consulted since its appointment, and-what

is more remarkable, and showing the results that can be secured when men of good-will get together-all their decisions have been unanimous. They were, for instance, consulted in connection with order in council P.C. 6286 dealing with the problem of bidding for skilled labour by war industries. They were consulted as to order in council 5922, which provided for the establishment of the labour coordination committee. They were consulted in connection with order in council 7440. I believe it is safe to say that there has not been a single measure of government labour policy on which they have not been consulted since the time the council was established.

In addition to that the government passed, with the unanimous approval of this house, the Unemployment Insurance Act, which it is hoped will come into effect at an early day. This was done in order to meet the wishes of labour plus the desire to establish sound economic conditions in the post-war period. In other words, I cannot see how the government could consult labour through the national labour supply council to a greater degree than it has done.

The hon. member mentioned representation of labour on boards. Let me deal with the boards of which the Department of Labour has the recommending. They are of course represented on the unemployment insurance commission; that, as he stated, is provided in the aot. They are represented on the unemployment insurance committee, and their representation on that committee is greater than that of industry, because labour has a definite representation of three out of six members and in addition there is one very prominent social worker who is a woman. The commission itself will be setting up a national employment committee under the aot, but I believe I can assure hon. members that labour will secure a fair representation. An offer of the chairmanship of that committee has already been made, to put it mildly, .to one of the leading labour leaders of this country in the person of Mr. Tom Moore, and I believe he will be kind enough to accept it. In other words, so far as government cooperation with labour is concerned I should like to have any suggested failure stated, not in wide and general terms, but by pointing out specifically wherein cooperation has failed.

War Appropriation Bill

The hon. member dealt with certain specific instances in which he felt that injustice had been done. He mentioned the National Steel Car company at Malton, and he asked my colleague the Minister of Munitions and Supply why there was a labour turnover of seventy-five to ninety per cent in that plant. The figure struck me at the time as startling and requiring explanation. I took the matter up with the company and inquired as to the correctness of the assertion. The reply I received from the president of the company was this: "In last six months, the labour

turnover at Malton has been approximately twelve per cent, of which about a third have left to join the services." Quite a wide difference, Mr. Chairman.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Can the minister give the total number of men who quit in 1940?

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

No, I have not that

figure; I have simply the reply to my inquiry. I quoted the statement made by the hon. member for Vancouver East, and asked as to its correctness, and that is the reply I received. Even that may be a large turnover. But when we consider that the aircraft industry is a new industry; that at the beginning of 1939 the number of men employed in it was 1,000, whereas to-day it is over 18,000, is it not reasonable to expect that it will show some greater measure of turnover than the older and more stabilized industries?

The hon. member went on to refer to conditions existing at the Montreal Construction Supply and Equipment company. Notwithstanding what was said the other day about the federal government having the power under the War Measures Act to overstep provincial rights and assume provincial duties, the fact is that the inspection of sanitary conditions at a plant is a provincial responsibility. There can be no doubt about that, because if it were not so, apart from any constitutional difficulty there would be the practical difficulty of duplicating the services necessary to do that work. It is not unreasonable to assume that out of 12.500 plants in Canada there may be found some that are not living up to their obligations in regard to sanitary conditions. So far as the Department of Labour can deal with the matter-and the department can do so only when it is drawn to their attention-we are glad to do so.

The hon. member went on to point out that they are working seven days a week. I agree that that is extremely undesirable. Experience

has shown that working seven days a week decreases rather than increases production in a plant, owing to the fatigue that results. That was the experience in Great Britain; when after the collapse of France they started to -work seventy-two hours a week but found the fatigue was such that production really was impeded. The ministry of labour in Great Britain has suggested that the optimum hours of work in labour for maximum production are fifty-four to fifty-six a week.

The hon. member went on to refer to the Fairchild company of Montreal, aircraft manufacturers, and suggested that discontent and unrest existed in that plant. About two weeks ago the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) placed on Hansard a memorandum given to me by some employees of that plant, members of the union. It was sent to him by members of the union, and he assumed that he wTas within his rights in putting it on Hansard. I do not criticize him in any way for the action he took, because he had no reason to believe it was confidential. But the information he placed on Hansard, which was reinforced by the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver East, was such as to indicate that unrest existed in that plant as between the employers and the employees.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

I would ask the minister to quote from Hansard anything I said with regard to unrest in the Fairchild plant.

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

The hon. member brought up the matter of finger-printing, and I was going to deal with that.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

I suggested something else.

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

You suggested the matter of finger-printing.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

That is something entirely different.

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

Oh, no; the suggestion was that it was creating unrest among the employees. The whole tone of the hon. member's remarks was that there was unrest among these men, and this was part of the evidence he produced to prove that contention. All right. The grand lodge representative of the International Association of Machinists, organizing department, who is residing in Montreal, read in Hansard the remarks of the hon. member for Weyburn, and as a result he wrote the hon. member. To be quite fair I must say that the hon. member for Weyburn sent me a copy of the letter, as did the writer. I should like to read it, in order that we may see the measure of unrest that exists at this plant. In the letter to the hon. member for Weyburn this gentleman states:

War Appropriation Bill

My attention has been drawn to Hansard of February 28, in which you are reported as quoting from a memorandum submitted to the Minister of Labour by a delegation of aircraft workers employed by the Fairchild company of Montreal.

The document from which you quote was intended for the Minister of Labour only, was considered confidential, and not for public ventilation. We are not aware of the source from which you obtained this memorandum-

Let me make it quite clear that I am not criticizing the hon. member for Weyburn. I know he did not realize that it was confidential.

-and beg to inform you that its publication was not authorized by this association, or any of its responsible officers.

Since the memorandum was submitted to the Minister of Labour we are happy to say that conditions in the Fairchild plant have greatly improved. Through the good offices of the Minister of Labour the management and the employees were brought together, the differences and misunderstandings that did exist have been composed, and a spirit of cooperation and good will now obtains which, we believe, will bring about what we all desire, namely, the smooth and efficient running of the plant without interruption.

While we are aware that you acted in good faith and in a public spirited desire to help the national war effort, we believe that no public service can be rendered by pursuing the matter further, in view of the good relations that now exist between our association and the company, and our mutual determination to work together to obtain the best results.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

Would the minister say who signed that letter?

Mr. MciLARTY: The letter is signed by Robert Haddow, grand lodge representative of the International Association of Machinists, organizing department.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

The hon. member for Weyburn should apologize to the house.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

No, Mr. Chairman. The memorandum to which I referred was submitted to the Minister of Labour, it is quite true. The facts contained in it must have been correct, but the situation has been cleared up and good relations have been established, for which I am very glad. But surely I have no reason to apologize to this committee or to the house.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

You had no right to the letter, and you put your own interpretation upon it.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

That is not

true.

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

I must give the hon.

member a clean bill of health in connection with this matter. He did mot know it was confidential; it was sent to him by a member of the union. Had he known it was confidential I am quite positive he would not have used it.

To deal with the further matter brought up by the hon. member for Vancouver East, the matter of finger-printing, I had not heard of it until he made his statement. I took up that, point with the manager of the plant, in order to determine just what had occurred. This gentleman stated that this finger-printing had been done entirely voluntarily, that there was no compulsion about it at all. The purpose for which it was dione was this: in tihe event of a serious accident in the plant, or in the event of sabotage, this was the most convenient method of identification they could think of, but no one in the plant who did not wish it was finger-printed.

Then the hon. member went on to deal with a personnel application of the International Metal Industries of Vancouver. That application has been placed on Hansard, and I think every hon. member of this committee Who has read it will agree that it is a harsh and conscienceless document; I do not believe anyone would think otherwise. But at page 1366 of Hansard I find this statement made by the hon. member for Vancouver East:

I am told they are approved by the government; on that point, however, I have not had verification.

It would have taken the ban. member two minutes to obtain that verification if he had so desired. Here is the point. He is suggesting that there is industrial unrest. Does it help to allay or assuage that industrial unrest to place on Hansard the suggestion that the government has approved a heartless document like this? Would it not have been better for the bon. member to endeavour to verify that statement before placing it on Hansard? Does it relieve industrial unrest or help our war effort to say, " I have been told the government approved of it?" In the first place, I think the hon. member probably realizes that there is no department of government which passes upon personnel applications in the matter of employment in private industry. In the second place, far from approving it, as soon as the matter was drawn to my attention I immediately wrote the company, and I should like to put the letter on Hansard:

There has been brought to my attention a reproduction of the "personnel record" form which you apparently are using in connection with the employment of your personnel.

I regard it as unfortunate that such a form should be used by any Canadian industry and especially at the present time when the success of the war effort so largely depends on effective cooperation between management and labour. The searching character of the information requested is resented on the part of labour. Its general effect is to hamper the effort of this department and of the provincial departments of labour to establish a greater conscious-

War Appropriation Bill

ness of identity of interests on the part of management and men in this period of crisis.

By order in council 2685 of June 19, 1940, copy enclosed, the government laid down certain principles designed to establish and maintain good relations between firms engaged in the execution of war contracts, and their work people. Whether a firm is engaged partly, exclusively, or not at all on war contracts, it cannot but be detrimental to the war effort as a whole if the principles laid down are disregarded as has been the case in connection with the use of the "personnel record" form referred to above. I hope you will see fit to amend this form and expunge that part of it which is provocative in character.

If the hon. member for Vancouver East hiad merely telephoned me I should have been glad to send him a copy of the letter. I *think it ia sufficiently clear that this letter, heartless as it is, never secured the approval of this government.

Mr. MaeINNIS: What is the date of the letter?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

March 3. That was a

Monday, and the information came to me the previous Saturday. Incidentally, in connection with the Richardson Road Machinery Company Limited, to which the hon. member also referred in his remarks, I understand that the use of the form about which he complained has been discontinued also.

The hon. member for Vancouver East complained about delay in the appointment of boards under the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act. I should like to make my position clear with respect to the set-up of these boards. Once the applicants have satisfied the Minister of Labour that they have complied with the necessary preliminary conditions, the minister has no discretion in the matter; it is mandatory, and he must set up a board. But on the other hand it is necessary that he be satisfied that those preliminary conditions have been complied with.

An application came from some of the employees of the National Steel Car company at Hamilton. I believe the facts are that that company employs in the neighbourhood of 2,400 to 2,500 men. The number involved in this particular application-and I may point out that they were maintenance men-was about 70. The company stated that, contrary to the statement made in the application, there had been no negotiations, and that the application did not represent a majority opinion in that particular department.

I felt it was necessary to obtain information as to the correctness of the statement. I endeavoured, without success, to secure negotiations. My suggestion was that the only way to determine which statements were correct-and I am not suggesting that there were deliberately untruthful statements-was

to take a vote of those particularly involved. That vote was to be taken last Saturday, and an officer of the Department of Labour went to Hamilton for the purpose of taking it. There was a dispute as to those who were properly on the list, and the officer was unable to take the vote on Saturday afternoon, as had been desired. However the company waived the question of vote, and the board was set up. I might point out that it had been set up before the hon. member for Vancouver East spoke in the house.

But the mere fact that the Department of Labour secures an application for a board does not mean that we immediately rush to our forms and endeavour to appoint it-and for this reason: We try to iron things out in every possible way without appointing a board. That we have been somewhat successful along that line is shown by the fact that out of 95 applications for boards received since the beginning of the war it has been necessary to set up only 47. In other words the conciliation service continues, even though the application for a board is there. I would make this further point: If in some instances there are delays beyond the period of fifteen days provided in the act, those delays are the result of endeavouring to compromise the difficulty rather than set up a formal board.

I believe I have covered all the points which have occurred to me, arising from the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver East. He mentioned the name Sir Walter Citrine, one of the outstanding labour leaders of the world. We have had the opportunity, and the inspiration arising therefrom, of having Sir Walter Citrine in this country. He was tremendously generous of his time. While in Canada he addressed Canadian clubs and units of the Trades and Labour Congress. Wherever he went I believe he instilled confidence in the fact that the labour movement of Great Britain is sound. His visit afforded us an opportunity of paying in a small way a tribute to those who are working so hard in Great Britain. I believe that having him in Canada was a real help to our national effort.

When he returned to England it would appear that he did not report that there was that great measure of labour unrest which the hon. member for Vancouver East has found. In fact, within a short time after his return Mr. Hugh Gibson, chairman of the Trade Unions Congress of Great Britain, made some observations respecting the labour situation which were entirely complimentary to the government of Canada and to the Department of Labour.

I believe that no advantage is served by endeavouring to stir up labour unrest through suggesting that it exists. I believe, sir, that these small items of complaint might be

War Appropriation Bill

better handled by the Department of Labour than on the floor of this committee. I believe, further, that if we will all cooperate, not to disturb but to heighten the confidence of labour, we will do more by way of contribution to the war effort than we could do by any other method.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

Mr. Chairman, I had intended this afternoon to resume the discussion I initiated last night. It had been my intention to speak at the beginning of to-day's sitting, but I was made aware that the Minister of Labour (Mr. McLarty) desired to make a statement, as he has done, and consequently I deferred rising until now. I make this explanation because the two hon. members to my left rose immediately after the minister spoke, apparently with the idea of following up with further debate on that subject. This is the reason for my appearing to butt in, and, if necessary, I offer my apologies. I am really carrying on from the point I had reached last night. The speech by the Minister of Labour was what might be called a sweet interlude.

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LIB

Olof Hanson

Liberal

Mr. HANSON (Yofk-Sunbury):

It was not so sweet to some people.

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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

Last night I said the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) had made a couple of statements to which at that time I wished to direct attention. The eleven o'clock adjournment interrupted my speech.

I have read over the statement made last night by the minister. The committee will recall that the only information he reported from Mr. Crabtree was that the equipment necessary to burn the type of coal they ought to burn was more expensive. He indicated that no other consideration entered into the matter; that the initial cost of equipment was the only one. If there are other arguments against the use of lignite coal, a coal which could be used economically in the war plant in question. I think we ought to have them. At the present time, however, there is nothing before the committee except the objection that the initial cost is the one bar to using the coal which could be used economically.

If one has available at the place he is going to burn it a coal costing $3.50 a ton, and if he has another coal at the same spot costing $8.15 or $8.75, then, of course, other things being equal, there cannot be very much argument as to which coal one ought to use.

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March 12, 1941