Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Acting Prime Minister): I have a statement I should like to make to the house with respect to the admission to Canada of a certain number of members of the Polish armed services to engage in agricultural pursuits. Hon. members are no doubt aware that the government of the United Kingdom, honouring undertakings given somewhat earlier, has obligated itself to find domicile for members of the Polish army which served with the allied forces, who may not choose to return to Poland immediately.
It is estimated that in all there were 159,000 men in this army: what portion have not been disbanded are now located partly in Italy and partly in the United Kingdom. It is well known that this Polish army served faithfully and well the common cause of the united nations, that the individual served with courage and distinction, and that most of these men have chosen not to return to Poland at this time. It is perhaps not unnatural that the government of Canada should give some thought to assisting in the establishment in civilian life of these Polish nationals who so staunchly aided the allied cause in securing the victorious outcome of hostilities and who now face peculiar difficulties in regard to demobilization.
In the circumstances the government [DOT] has reviewed the situation to see whether we could render any assistance. And we have also considered as related to the first problem of the
establishment of these Polish nationals the fact that at the present time there still exists in Canada an acute shortage of suitable labour for agricultural employment, not only on a seasonal basis but as a more or less permanent situation.
In surveying the problems involved the government had the benefit of advice from an interdepartmental committee which was set up under the chairmanship of A. Mac-Namara, deputy minister of labour, and upon which there were representatives also of the Department of External Affairs, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and of the immigration branch of mines and resources.
After due consideration by the government of all the factors involved, the Ministers of Labour and Mines and Resources have recommended to cabinet council that a limited number of single ex-members of these Polish armed forces should be admitted to Canada conditionally for farm work.
The recommendation of the two ministers has now been approved by the governor in council P.C. 3112 of July 23, 1946. It authorizes a programme for assisting our farm labour problem, while at the same time sharing to some extent in the solution of an allied problem. I might summarize the main points of the order in council as follows:
1. Four thousand single ex-members of the Polish armed forces who served with the allied forces will be admitted to Canada shortly, on a conditional basis.
2. The men admitted must be qualified for and willing to undertake agricultural employment in Canada.
3. The Minister of Labour is authorized to arrange for representatives of the immigration branch of Mines and Resources, of the Department of Labour and of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to proceed to the United Kingdom and Italy to select the
4,000 suitable men to come to Canada for agricultural employment.
4. The facilities of the national employment service will be utilized for the work of placing these men on farms, but provision is also made for dominion-provincial agreements if it be. found desirable 'to arrange for the assistance of the provinces in connection with the task of placement.
5. Every Polish soldier admitted to Canada will be required to sign an underbaking that for a period of two years following arrival he will accept direction to farm employment and will remain at agricultural work.
6. Steps will be taken to ensure that the men admitted are engaged at current wages
and in accordance with living and working conditions prevailing in the locality of employment.
7. The United Kingdom will bear the cost and responsibility of transporting the men to Canada and the Canadian government will bear the cost of distribution within Canada.
8. The order in council sets forth a declaration that each man admitted to Canada under this arrangement who fulfils for two years after arrival the terms and conditions under which he is admitted will then .be granted permanent admission to Canada.
It is understood, of course, that any man who fails to carry out his obligation in relation to farm employment, or whose deportation becomes necessary otherwise, shall be returned to the United Kingdom.
I wish to lay on the table a copy of order in council P.C. 3112 of July 23, 1946, as referred to in this statement.