July 13, 1942

NAT

Ernest Edward Perley

National Government

Mr. E. E. PERLEY (Qu'Appelle):

Can the Minister of Agriculture make a statement to the house so that the people of western Canada, and particularly the farmers, may know what steps are being taken to meet the very serious situation regarding farm and harvest labour? I am moved to make this inquiry because of the number of letters I am receiving which indicate that the farmers are seriously worried about the matter. What cooperation is being given by the various war services? What is being done?

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) :

The question should really be

directed to the Minister of Labour, who handles all questions which have to do with labour, including even labour for farms. I may say that representations are made to me as Minister of Agriculture, as apparently they are made to various hon. members representing agricultural constituencies, and I make representations on behalf of those concerned to the Department of Labour. My understanding is-the Minister of Labour will correct me if I am wrong-that a vote of $100,000 has been set up by this house for the purpose of making it possible for the minister to assist the provincial governments, or whatever department of a provincial government deals with agricultural labour matters, in the organization and transportation of labour from one part of a province to another, or even, if necessary, from one .province to another. For two or three years an amount of money has been included in the estimates for that purpose, and agreements are reached between the Minister of Labour, together with his department, and whatever department is responsible in the province, under which assistance will be given for the organization and transportation of whatever surplus labour is available to be moved to areas where there is a shortage.

Speaking as Minister of Agriculture, though, I think I should say-what is probably known to all hon. members-that surplus labour for different purposes is becoming less and less. Practically all of the labour in Canada is now employed, either in the armed services, in manufacturing, in transportation, or on farms, and I believe it to be very difficult to muster any additional amount of labour for farming purposes. It might be possible to reorganize it and to shift some of the surplus labour which is not on farms from place to place in

Labour Conditions

order 'to have it better distributed, but I doubt if there is any considerable amount of additional labour which can be placed on the farms. The course I have mentioned has been urged on the Department of Labour and they are doing, I believe, everything possible to coordinate the efforts of the provinces and the federal authority in this direction. An attempt is being made to - organize all the surplus urban labour, in villages and towns in the different provinces, in order that they can go to the farms in the surrounding community for so many hours a day or so many days a week. Organization is proposed similar to the organization which was carried- on in the last two years of the last war.

So far as the defence services are concerned, I think the Minister of National Defence should speak on their behalf.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Hon. H. A. BRUCE (Parkdale):

In further reference to the question which the Minister of Agriculture has just been answering, may I direct a question in respect to farm labour to the Minister of Labour, who seems to be the proper authority? It is becoming increasingly difficult, as the Minister of Agriculture said, to get suitable farm labour; and we are faced with this situation, that although we are paying double the wages we paid a few years ago, certain people will try to outbid us and steal away our help. I have had a recent illustration of this on my own farm. I should like to ask the minister if the same regulations should not apply to farm labour as apply to labour in factories-that the permission of the employer must be obtained before a man leaves to take another job of a similar character.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

I would say, in a kindly way, that we have heard a great deal about an allout war effort, and it is rather good1, from the labour man's point of view, to hear that there is a shortage of labour in Ontario.

As long ago as last February the Minister of Agriculture and myself discussed this matter, anticipating a distinct shortage of labour on the farms of this country. We came to an arrangement with the government of Ontario, who last year, through the instrumentality of an agreement with the federal government, and in cooperation with the employment service of Canada, made possible the organization of 23,000 additional people for the farms of that province. We made a similar agreement this year, with an additional amount beyond that of last year of $40,000 apiece, making $200,000 for the two governments. We sent a copy of that agreement to

all the other provinces, as we thought they would like to avail themselves of similar provisions or similar facilities.

I think this may be fairly stated1, that in connection with agriculture generally the best kind of government organization is that which is closest to the people.. I do not say that in any way to get from under the responsibility of the federal government. There is no need to tell my hon. friend that in its very essence agriculture changes from province to province, so that the problem in Saskatchewan is different from the problem in Ontario. Both in industry and in agriculture, faced as we are with various problems, we think it will be necessary to take substitutes. It is hard for us to adjust ourselves to a condition that departs from the psychology of two or three years ago, when we could simply go to the shelf and take down what we wanted. We have reached the point where it will be necessary for farmers and industrialists in Canada to use, if I may say so, all their local powers, their energy and their imagination to meet the local situation.

With respect to the wages question raised by my hon. friend, I should like to go into that, but he knows as well as I do, that in all these matters agriculture is generally excepted. It is excepted from the provisions of the unemployment insurance act; it is excepted from the provisions of many other acts and regulations in force in Canada, and I should not like to give an answer offhand. The hon. member understands as well as I do the vast organization that would be necessary to enable us to exercise control over the wages of individual farm labourers throughout the country. With regard to industry, it is comparatively easy where there are big units, where the organization is complete and we know who the employers are. There are 150,000 employers in industry and commerce to-day each of whom employs more than fifteen people. I say that not to make a speech, but to point out to my hon. friend the difficulties with which the government would be confronted if it undertook to set in motion immediately a policy that would control agricultural wages.

I think we should stand by the good old British principle, that it is wise not to pass regulations and orders in council unless there is a reasonable chance of enforcing them, because lack of enforcement would bring the government into ill repute and also render difficult the application and stabilization of the wage structure ot commerce and industry in this country.

Labour Conditions

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

May I ask the Minister of

National Defence if this matter of farm leave has been given consideration by his department. If so, has it been refused? I am prompted to ask this both by questions raised here to-day and by an announcement which I saw some days ago to that effect, the truth of which announcement was promptly denied.

I do think that some provision might be made with regard to draftees, if it will not upset the balance of training. Even if there is some inconvenience in connection with training at the different centres, the taking care of the harvest is such a vital matter in certain provinces that every effort ought to be made to render assistance if the difficulties are not insurmountable. I can visualize difficulties, and I will not press the point home; but it seems to me that the Department of National Defence might give consideration to a few days' leave for trainees and others in connection with this matter of harvest.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. J. L. RALSTON (Minister of National Defence):

I wish I were justified in giving to my hon. friend, the house and the country, an assurance that consideration which would really result favourably could be given. Let me say that the matter has been very seriously and carefully considered, and I would repeat here what I have had. to say in a good many letters, namely, that this matter of asking the army to supply men for various services has occasioned us a good deal of concern. My hon. friend will remember that not long ago the request was made that the army supply men for the purpose of loading fertilizer. Another request had been made previously that the army should supply men for seeding in the west. That request came from the president of the Saskatchewan Cooperative Wheat Growers Association. They felt perhaps that we should have complied with the request. A request was received later from the sugar beet growers, and so on.

There has arisen in this country the idea that the army has a pool of man-power which can be detailed for this or that civilian service. I say that in the kindest way, but I must say, as kindly and as firmly, that it cannot be done, in view of the commitments and preoccupations which the army has. There is not only training to be considered, but mobilization in connection with the expanded programme which had to be undertaken as the result of war developments. It is not possible to give the house any [DOT] hope that harvest leave will be entertained, in large

numbers, of men who have been called up, or of those who have enlisted voluntarily. There may be cases where men are at depots -not at training centres-and perhaps in some particular unit, on some local duty which does not require the same assiduous attention as some others, where some leave can be granted. But all cases will have to be considered individually, and there will be no harvest leave in the broad sense of making a general order that such leave will be granted to men who are needed to work on farms. Some consideration may be given regarding personnel in some units of a special character such as I have indicated, but I am afraid I cannot give the house any further assurance than that. '

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
NAT

Ernest Edward Perley

National Government

Mr. PERLEY:

I would have directed my question to one of the ministers of the armed services, but I thought that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) would make a statement similar to that which the Minister of National Defence has just given, and which is very valuable. It will enable farmers who have sons recently called up under the training scheme to know exactly what the conditions are and what they may expect. This morning I took up with one of the service departments an important letter I had received-

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
NAT

Ernest Edward Perley

National Government

Mr. PERLEY:

I am saying this to help the government. I was treated with great courtesy. I was told that there were special cases where it could be shown that it would not interfere with the man's course at all or with his general duties, wherein some consideration might be given. I thank the minister for the statement he has made. I wanted to get it on the record.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Unless hon. members are seeking to continue what has become a debate, I must ask that similar questions be put on the order paper.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

May I ask the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson), whether any consideration has been given to certain conscientious objectors who are now in camp doing work which in many cases is useless and who might be engaged on farms in connection with the harvest?

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink
LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

That is a question which the hon. member should place on the order paper.

Hong Kong Commission

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   SHORTAGE OF FARM HELP
Sub-subtopic:   CONTROL OF AGRICUL- TURAL WAGES-HARVEST LEAVE FOR MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES
Permalink

HONG KONG COMMISSION

REFERENCE TO ALLEGED STATEMENT OF COLONEL DREW AS TO NON-ACCEPTANCE OF FEES


On the orders of the day:


NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Hon. H. A. BRUCE (Parkdale):

About a week ago I asked a question of the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent), and I am not quite satisfied with the reply I received; for I am afraid it may create a wrong impression. The reply had to do with Colonel Drew's charge for services, and the reply was, "No account submitted". I understand that at the opening of the Hong Kong inquiry before Commissioner Duff, Colonel Drew stated that it was not his intention to accept any fee or expenses, that he had undertaken the work as a public duty. '

Topic:   HONG KONG COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ALLEGED STATEMENT OF COLONEL DREW AS TO NON-ACCEPTANCE OF FEES
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   HONG KONG COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ALLEGED STATEMENT OF COLONEL DREW AS TO NON-ACCEPTANCE OF FEES
Permalink
LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understand that the hon. member wishes some further explanation with regard to a question he has already asked. I think he is entitled to that.

Topic:   HONG KONG COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ALLEGED STATEMENT OF COLONEL DREW AS TO NON-ACCEPTANCE OF FEES
Permalink
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Can the hon. member make a statement as to what happened at a secret session?

Topic:   HONG KONG COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ALLEGED STATEMENT OF COLONEL DREW AS TO NON-ACCEPTANCE OF FEES
Permalink
NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

I do not refer to a secret session at all.

Topic:   HONG KONG COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO ALLEGED STATEMENT OF COLONEL DREW AS TO NON-ACCEPTANCE OF FEES
Permalink

July 13, 1942