P.C. 3495 of November 7, 1939, which extends the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act to cover all industries; P.C. 6286, of November 7, 1940; P.C. 4642, of June 25, 1941, which is the labour enticement order; P.C. 3884 was repealed and replaced- the fair wages order; P.C. 4758, of June 27, 1941, dealing with the reinstatement of returned soldiers in employment, providing penalties on the employer; P.C. 4844, of July 2, 1941, setting up the industrial disputes inquiry commission and containing provisions against discrimination on account of union membership; P.C. 7307; P.C. 7679, of October 4, 1941, which is the new order with regard to minimum wages in war industries; and the wage stabilization order in council of October 24, 1940.
The point I wish to make is that the suggestion that penalties have been put on labour but have not been put on industry are absolutely refuted by these very facts themselves.
The suggestion has been made that in the recent order in council we are what is called "freezing" wages. The word "freezing" is an unfortunate term. It suggests a static condition that is incapable of change. That condition does not exist in that order in council.
If wages are low, they may be increased. If they are not fair and reasonable, they are not frozen.
We are setting up a national organization, a national war labour board, to which any man or any organization may apply, in order to ensure that there is no freezing, and that the condition that fair wages shall prevail shall be the order of the day. We are not doing this with the idea of putting a ceiling on wages. We are doing it with this idea in view, that we want to make real and nominal wages one and the same thing. In the statement I gave to this house a short time ago I pointed out the condition that arose in the last war. I pointed out that the cost of living inevitably rose higher and faster than wages, and that it was in the interests of the wage-earners of this country-not to hurt them, not to hold them down-but to assist in their actual real purchasing power that that order in council was passed.
The hon. member for Kenora-Rainy River mentioned the war emergency training programme. We are substantially ahead of our programme in the training for war industries. Speaking from recollection, I believe the estimate for this year, made about a year ago, of those who would be trained in the vocational schools, for example, was 50,000. It will run over 60,000 for the current year. Further, based on 803 plants canvassed, industry is training, under the direction of the Department of Labour, an additional 70,000. In addition to that, the bureau of technical training, under the capable chairmanship of Mr. Little, is training through the newsprint industry, the utilities industry and the mines industry, other workers who either will take their place in war industry or will allow present employees in these industries to take their place in war industry, to be replaced by those now in training. In other words, the training programme is moving along in a splendid manner.
May I refer for a moment to unemployment insurance. That, as hon. members know, came into force on the 1st of July last. The number of books taken out by 143,000 employers is in the neighbourhood of 2,700,000. Up to date there has been collected in excess of $14,000,000 for that fund. In fact, the interest in that fund, invested in government securities, which assists our war-time effort, is in excess of $16,000. I mention that because I think it will be of interest to the members of this house.
Might I say one or two things in connection with remarks which have been made. The hon. member for Vancouver East asked which union we recognized in the National Steel Car corporation. At the present time the situation is this. There are two unions there. One is the
steel workers' organization of Canada and the other is the employees' association. But I would not wish the hon. member to get the belief that that employees' association is a company union. There is no preference shown to either union. Neither one has premises in the plant. They are both organized on their own, on a self-sustaining basis, and in the matter of actual contact there is no discrimination shown as between them. I am advised that the employees' association has more members than the steel workers' organizing committee, but as to whether or not that is correct I am not definitely prepared to say.
May I refer to the observations of the hon. member for Cape Breton South relative to Kirkland Lake? I think it would be inopportune for me to deal with that under present circumstances, because I have requested both employers and employees-the operators and the members of the union-to come here on Monday next. I believe that any statement which I made in connection with the hon. member's remarks might not assist but perhaps retard any effort, which I trust will be successful, to come to a conclusion that will avoid a strike.
I do not know that there is a great deal more which I need to say. As the hon. member for Vancouver East said, there may be some other questions, and I shall be glad to deal with them, but I do not wish to open a wide range of subjects which have not hitherto been referred to.
I intended to reply to the question of the hon. member for Weyburn, and I apologize for not having done so. I have not seen the article. I have not heard that Mr. McGregor, who is an estimable citizen, as my hon. friend has suggested, and is carrying on the war savings campaign for the Department of Finance in Windsor, has made the statement. It does not exactly horrify me if he had. On the other hand-[DOT]
I should like to make sure that he has. I do not suggest that no man should obtain a position unless he buys war savings certificates. I have, however, a little sympathy with those who are trying to promote the sale of these certificates. I do not think the purchase of these should be made a condition of employment; it should not; let us admit that quite freely and frankly. On the other hand, I suppose it is one of those
methods of promotion which is adopted by those who perhaps are a little more zealous for the sale of wyar savings certificates, which are to the advantage of this country.
Would the minister care to deal with the matter which I brought up a few moments ago, having to do with a division of authority as between the provincial governments and the federal government with regard to certain matters such as rates of pay to men, such as truckers and others, engaged on federal government projects in the provinces?
I do not think there is any division of opinion as to the appropriate authority of the dominion and of the provinces in this matter. In so far as they are dominion government projects, the dominion government has the sole jurisdiction as to rates of wages paid and working conditions in connection with those contracts. In other wrords, wages generally speaking, are a provincial responsibility. But in the case of dominion government projects the dominion government has the authority.
If they are provincial rates, there would be no need of delegation. Do I understand the hon, member to suggest that the dominion government has delegated to the provinces the right to fix rates in connection with dominion government projects?
No. But in some provinces they have minimum rates of pay for certain types of work. If a contractor takes a dominion government contract in a province where those legal rates prevail, must the contractor pay those rates? That is really what I want to know.
The answer is, very definitely, yes, the dominion rates. Primarily, of course, the matter of wages is a provincial responsibility, it being a matter of property and civil rights. But in connection with dominion projects the dominion is responsible in fixing those rates, and as far as I am aware there has been no delegation of any authority to any province to fix these rates in connection with dominion government contracts in any province.
In my opinion the minister looks altogether too leniently upon the action referred to by the hon. member for Weyburn. This is blackmail-quite definitely so. When
a promoter or a salesman of anything-I do not care what it is, whether it is war savings certificates, or blankets, or something else- says to a person, "You have to buy so much or you are not going to get a job", it is blackmail. Remember that when it is applied to workers it is particularly serious, because the job is the worker's life; it is his livelihood; if he does not get a job, he starves. Yet, regardless of his circumstances, he is compelled to subscribe to so many war savings certificates before he can go to work. After all, this is a free country, or it was until quite recently. This man is paying the taxes which have been deemed right and sufficient by the government of Canada. After he has paid those taxes it is no one's business what he is going to subscribe to, and it should not be made a condition of his getting a job. What would happen if the government of Canada were to say through someone-and if the government allows it the government is saying it -that before a contractor shall get a contract he must undertake to buy so many war bonds or war savings certificates? The Minister of Labour should make a statement here that such a thing will not be allowed, and that if it has been made a condition of employment at Windsor or at any other city it must be discontinued forthwith. The minister owes a statement of that kind to the committee.
Mr. Chairman, I think that when an hon. member uses the word "blackmail" he is probably going entirely outside the intention which would be behind this action. "Blackmail" suggests very definitely some personal advantage which is accruing to the blackmailer. In this case the chairman of the war savings certificates committee is trying to sell war savings certificates for the benefit of the government and the people of Canada. To call it "blackmail" is hardly fair to him. There may be a difference of opinion as to the desirability of having it done, but to suggest that the chairman of the war savings certificates committee, because he is endeavouring-perhaps unduly-to promote the sale of war savings certificates, is guilty of blackmail, is something which I do not believe will appeal to this committee.
I have dealt with the matter of coercion, and I do not think I need go into that at length. Before making a statement to the committee on this matter I should like to get some actual facts. I have seen in newspapers accounts which may be a little highly coloured, and probably this is highly coloured. I would say now that I seriously question if it is a condition precedent to
any man obtaining a position in Windsor that he has to buy war savings certificates, and although I have read the statement in the press I would want more confirmation of it than the article now read. I quite agree that no such condition should be attached to a man's getting employment.
A project was begun in my constituency this summer by the Department of Agriculture under the prairie farm rehabilitation branch. Representations were made to me that while a rate of thirty cents an hour was paid to unskilled workers, certain groups of workers who came from Regina were paid forty cents an hour for the same kind of work. I brought the matter to the attention of both the Department of Labour and the Department of Agriculture, and I have been advised by the Department of Labour that some clauses will be put into force in connection with rates of pay. The attitude of the Department of Agriculture was that they did not want to pay wages which would interfere with wages paid to farm help. That is a policy which is open to some criticism. Agriculture is in a depressed condition throughout Canada and particularly in the west, but that is not a good argument for paying men who are unemployed in towns a large part of the year a very low wage because farmers roundabout always pay very low wages when farm prices are at low levels. Can the minister make a statement as to the policy that will be carried out in connection with projects that are being carried on by departments of the government?