Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):
There have been references in the press with respect to the number of Canadians crossing into the United States to work in lumber camps. The hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth) raised the question during bis address on the debate last evening. For that reason I should like to make the following statement.
In normal times a considerable number of men from Quebec and New Brunswick living along the American border have crossed into the United States each winter to work in the woods. Exact figures are not available, but it seems probable that in some years up to 20,000 men engaged in this movement. In the winter of 1941 and 1942 some measure of control was introduced and the number crossing the border was limited to approximately 7,200.
The first arrangement between the governments of Canada and the United States was that this season approximately 3,700 would be allowed to cross to the United States for
this purpose. There were 3,870 Canadians in the United States on permits to work in the woods in New England and northern New York during the present winter, as at January 16, 1943, the border then having been closed for new entrants for this purpose. - The limit of 3,700 men was never quite maintained. Late in 1942 some Canadian firms cutting logs in the United States for Canada asked permission to engage about 200 additional men. The government agreed to the allotment of these men to the Canadian firms; under this arrangement 256 men were permitted to depart.
Subsequently the war man-power commission of the United States urged that 2,250 additional men be authorized to cross the border, and a special representative of the commission came to Ottawa in December to support the request. He stressed American-Canadian relations in a total allied war effort. As a result, it was finally agreed to allow 500 additional men to enter the United States, with the assignment as among the different logging firms to be carried out entirely by the war man-power commission of the United States. It was understood1 that the border would definitely be closed for such entries at January 15, 1943. When the time came only 325 of the additional 500 allotted actually left Canada.
While the total quota was raised to 4,456, preliminary figures indicate that up to January 15, when the border was closed, about 4,287 had crossed, of whom the 3,870 referred to above were still in the United States on January 16. It is possible that other men who were entitled to reenter the States for logging work were home in Canada for the week-end when the count of 3,870 was made. However, this number will gradually reduce as men return to Canada; for any man who returns for four days is not allowed to reenter the United States.
The suggestion has been made that in addition to men allowed to go to the United States legally, a number have gone illegally. There is no evidence to support this allegation. The fact is that were it not for administrative assistance given by the United States government, quite a number of Canadians might have crossed the border illegally, owing to the difficulties of policing the entire border. However, the United States government has given assistance in two ways:
1. In the early winter the Americans assisted in a close checkup throughout all the camps, made by Canadian officials, in regard to Canadians then in the United States.
2. Since exit permits have been required to leave Canada to work outside, the United States government through its immigration service has insisted that any man crossing the border from Canada to work in the United States must have a Canadian labour exit permit.
It will be readily appreciated that the cooperation of the United States authorities facilitates enforcement of the labour exit permit system.
It is important to note three points: First, not only were logging operators in the United States interested in this movement, but the war man-power commission of the United States was also keenly interested. Second, the allocation of the men among the various operators after crossing the border was wholly undertaken by agencies of the United States government. Third, quite a proportion of the logs cut in the New England states are for export to, and processing in, Canada, and enter into Canadian manufactures.
It is extremely important to Canada that we maintain good relations with the United States. The quality of these relations is emphasized by the fact that the United States has given us assistance in controlling the movement of woodsmen to that country. Some give and take in regard to labour supply along the border is essential. We receive return assistance in this regard from time to time.