May 18, 1943

NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I desire to thank the minister for the full explanation he has given, and to congratulate him upon the fact that, so far at all events, Canada has not surrendered any sovereign jurisdiction. A reference is probably the correct procedure. It did seem to me, as a former student-I will not say as a student-of international law that the United States government were asking a good deal. I am grateful for the opportunity of bringing the matter forward, and for the minister's reply.

Topic:   FOREIGN FORCES
Subtopic:   JURISDICTION IN RESPECT OF OFFENCES COMMITTED WITHIN CANADA
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EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

Yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) announced to the

Coal Emergency

house issuance of a proclamation which declares a state of emergency with regard to the coal mining situation. I wish now to table copies of the order in council embodying a man-power policy with regard to the mining of coal.

There is little need of stressing the utmost importance of coal to our industrial and domestic life. Hon. members, I am sure, are thoroughly seized of the important part that this fuel plays, particularly during the present war. Coal for ships, for war industries including railroads, and for the maintenance of the health and welfare of the population, we must have.

I feel confident that, given the necessary man-power, the miners and operators of Canada's coal industry, coupled with our importations, will provide us with the coal we require to carry us through this grave emergency. However, it is necessary that extraordinary measures be taken to secure for the coal mines an adequate supply of workers.

It is estimated that for the fiscal year 1943-44 Canada will require about 41,500,000 tons of bituminous coal. Last fiscal year we used about 37,381,000 tons, of which 19,219,000 tons were imported from the United States and 18,162,000 tons were produced in the Dominion of Canada. With an increased consumption during the present year we must either raise our production, import more coal, or do both.

Our importations from the United States increased substantially in late years, from 13,518,556 tons in 1940-41 to about 20,000,000 tons in 1942-43. Owing to the United States needing more coal, there is no certainty that we can continue to increase our imports from that country. Therefore we must increase Canadian production from the 18,373,255 tons of last year, which, it will be noticed, is estimated to be slightly over our consumption. Our own production was increased by about one million tons in the two years from 1940-41 to 1942-43.

During the last fiscal year we imported nearly four and a half million tons of anthracite coal from the United States, about nine-tenths of our requirements in this regard. It is not certain that the United States can provide us with any larger amount of coal of this type during the present year, so that Canadian fuels will ha,ve to make up for the difference between imports and requirements.

I should like to stress the fact that the Canadian coal industry-workers and management-under the disabilities which are inevitable in Canadian war economy, has main-

tained a high level of production and has contributed substantially to our common war effort. The hope of further increases in production must rest largely upon the provision of additional workers to the industry.

In February of this year the total number of workers engaged in the coal mining industry was 25,089. As of April 29 of this year, unfilled vacancies reported by the coal mines totalled 2,329. The labour shortage each month during the winter was in like volume. At the end of April, 1,324 of the vacancies were in the maritime provinces and 995 on the prairies and in British Columbia.

In addition to the present mining capacity in the country, the government is seeking to find new sources of production and is helping in the financing of operations. New shafts are being opened in the northern area of. Alberta, some new stripping mines in Saskatchewan, and some additional operations in British Columbia and in Nova Scotia. This of course will require man-power in addition to the figures which I have already given.

I think the house will understand that labour shortages cannot be overcome by simply providing the number of men asked for, without regard to the individual's qualifications. It is estimated that seventy to eighty per cent of the present vacancies are for coal cutters, and1 the balance for haulage and surface workers. Cutting coal is a skilled trade., and coal miners cannot be made overnight. The provinces require two years' experience before issuing licences to miners. Therefore the main labour supply problem is to locate those who previously were engaged in the industry.

Provision of surface workers largely is dependent upon securing cutters; if cutters are not found, the work for additional surface workers does not exist. Therefore every effort must be made to find coal cutters. While a limited number can be provided through training courses, it is those with previous training and experience we must return to the mines.

The labour shortage at the moment arises in large part out of the urgent need for substantially increasing our production over last year.

Certain measures were taken last year to stabilize employment in coal mining. Undoubtedly these had a beneficial effect, but With the present situation facing us, earlier steps require to be strengthened. That is precisely the purpose of the present order in council.

Under arrangement with the armed forces, qualified miners in the forces here in Canada have been given the opportunity of applying for leave to return to their old jobs. This was

Coal Emergency

undertaken early last winter. About 1200 miners volunteered to return. The cases of others who have volunteered are being gone into at the present time. This is additional to the provision of the present order in council.

Also last winter some men were returned from west coast shipyards to the mines, but much more must be done along this line, other industries being brought in.

I should now like to recount briefly the provisions of the present order:

1. Every employer, regardless of his industry, must advise his employees of the regulations, and he must assist in discovering whether any of his employees have hadi previous experience as coal mine workers.

2. Every employee, regardless of his industry, who has had previous experience as a coal mine worker, must report that fact to his employer not later than Tuesday, May 25, 1943.

3. A "coal mine worker" for these purposes is anyone who, since January 1, 1935, has worked under provincial certificate or licence in or around a coal mine, or who, since the same date, has been employed for a total of at least twenty-four months in the production of coal-with the exception, of course, of office workers and trade union officials.

4. Every employer, not a coal mine operator, must report in w'riting to a selective service officer not later than Tuesday, June 1, 1943, full details on any of his employees who are ex-coal mine workers.

5. Selective service officers are authorized to . require ex-coal mine workers to report for interview and to accept work at a coal mine.

6. Selective service officers may require any man in any employment, if subject to mobilization regulations but rejected for military training, and certain others excused from military training, including conscientious objectors, to accept employment at a coal mine.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

In a coal mine or at a coal mine?

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

At a coal mine.

7. No coal mine operator may terminate the services of any coal mine worker without written permission from a selective service officer.

8. No coal mine worker may leave employment at a coal mine without written permission from a selective service officer.

These last two rules, of course, have been in effect for some time.

9. Every ex-coal mine worker, returning to the industry under these regulations, will be paid wages at the established rate for the job at which he is placed; and the government

will pay wages of 40 cents an hour, eight hours a day and 48 hours a week, to any ex-coal mine worker required to leave his present employment under these provisions, but not placed immediately at coal mining.

10. A board allowance of not more than $7.50 a week may be paid an ex-coal mine worker now returning to a coal mine, if required to live away from the residence of his dependents.

11. Present and future coal mine workers will be granted postponement from military training to February 1, 1944, by virtue of their occupation. (This rule, too, has been effective for some months, to stabilize the industry.) A new and important rule, however, is that no coal mine worker will be accepted for voluntary enlistment in the armed forces of Canada, prior to February 1, 1944, except under permit to enlist from a selective service officer.

12. No employer in Canada, except a coal mine operator, may solicit for employment or hire any ex-coal mine worker.

13. Regardless of any dominion or provincial law, male persons at least sixteen years old may be employed as coal mine workers, and female persons at least eighteen years old may be employed as surface coal mine workers.

14. War emergency training classes will be available for training men as coal mine workers.

The plans have been carefully worked out. The coal administrator and the chairman of the war emergency coal production board were both taken into consultation. The matter was brought before the national selective service advisory board, on which employers and workers are represented. Drafts also were discussed with the coal mining advisory committee, made up of employers and employees, and their views were secured.

The government is confident that the mining industry and the public will respond in the emergency. It will be observed that provision has been made to safeguard the rights of workers required to change their employment. We have to act in these matters in the light of the greater interest, namely, the interest of Canada's war effort and the national well-being.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

How much coal was brought in from Great Britain?

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I have not the figures in front of me.

Coal Emergency

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Has the minister's

department full information in detail as to the number of coal workers, workers out of the coalfields, who have voluntarily enlisted since the war began, or who have gone into other types of occupation since that time?

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I would not say that we know where they are, but we know the number, which is approximately 7,000.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

That is, 7,000 divided between enlistments and those who have gone to other types of occupation?

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

There are 3.000 in the armed forces and 4,000 in private industry. That is approximate. Account must be taken also of the 1,200.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Do I understand the minister to say that men will be taken from the armed forces to the coalfields?

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

They wall not be permitted to volunteer.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

The matters to which the minister has referred this afternoon were brought up a month ago and as recently as a week , ago, on May 10. Questions of mine as to making coal mining and distribution a national selective industry, as to federal bonuses and release of labour for coal, were made an order for return, one of the first by the minister's new parliamentary secretary; yet only yesterday an order in council was passed in regard' to coal, making it a national selective industiy, dealing with the same questions brought up in the house by me a month ago and a week ago. As a private member of the house I object to the way in which the business is being conducted along this line. Here are six motions with reference to coal which this house has had before it for a year and a half, and just yesterday an order in council was passed. Questions have been asked four times with reference to the 75 cents applying to Toronto, and over the heads of the ministers and of parliament we have this increase in Toronto again. If this is the way in which our business is to be conducted then the only thing the opposition can do is to bring up questions of this kind every time we go into supply.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. JAQUES:

Has the government or the department considered the possibilities of the gold mines as centres for recruiting coal miners?

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

If my hon. friend knew the difference between hardrock mining and soft-rock mining he would see the impractic-ablity of such a suggestion.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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SC
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

The hon. member may have heard of it, but it is not practicable.

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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SC

Norman Jaques

Social Credit

Mr. JAQUES:

I believe the minister has told the house that they have been recruiting from the shipyards and from the active forces for men to mine coal, and I suggest that there are a great many thousands of men at present who are wasting both time and materials in mining an utterly useless product, namely gold, and to say that gold miners cannot be taken and put to work in coal mines-

Topic:   EXISTENCE OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY- MAN-POWER POLICY
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May 18, 1943