February 17, 1947

INCREASE IN DOMESTIC PRICE TO SI .55 PER BUSHEL PLUS CARRYING CHARGES

LIB

James Angus MacKinnon (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Hon. J. A. MacKINNON (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

Mr. Speaker, I have an announcement to make at this time with regard to wheat policy. In doing so I am speaking for my colleague the Minister of Finance as well as for myself, and I am also referring to matters that come more particularly under the jurisdiction of my colleague the Minister of Agriculture.

As an important element in price control, the government, through the wartime prices and trade board, has maintained maximum prices for wheat products milled and sold in Canada for human consumption. This programme has been in effect since August 1, 1942.

These ceiling prices, very important from the standpoint of living costs during and since the war, could only be maintained if wheat were provided to processors on the basis of prices existing in the base period in the fall of 1941. It was established that the highest cash price of western wheat during the base period was 77| cents per bushel for No. 1 northern wheat in store Fort William-Port Arthur. Effective on August 1, 1942, when the board's fixed initial price was increased to 90 cents per bushel, the government provided for a drawback to be paid to mills and other processors of wheat for consumption in Canada. This drawback was the equivalent of the difference between the basic price of 77$ cents per bushel and the monthly average price for western wheat. Since September, 1943, the drawback has been based upon the difference between 77| cents per bushel and the prevailing domestic price of $1.25 per bushel.

On September 27, 1943, trading was suspended on the Winnipeg futures market and the government, through the Canadian wheat board, took over all unsold stocks of wheat in commercial positions. This wheat became the property of the government with no further producer interest. These crown stocks, amounting to nearly 300 million bushels, were then used for mutual aid purposes and wheat for the domestic market. They were disposed of at approximately the prices at which they were acquired. These crown stocks lasted until January, 1945. In acquiring additional supplies of wheat for mutual aid purposes early in 1945 the government paid the board's current com-

Labour Conditions

mercial price, which was SI .46 per bushel, less an allowance for carrying charges. At that time, however, the government felt that over-all price control in Canada required the establishment of a domestic wheat price. Consequently the Canadian wheat board was directed to make wheat available for domestic consumption at 81.25 per bushel which was the fixed initial price being paid to western producers. The government continued to absorb carrying charges on domestic wheat and continued the drawback to processors to maintain the basic price of 77$ cents per bushel. This arrangement has continued up to the persent time.

This part of price control has involved the expenditure of public funds. Drawbacks paid to processors of wheat products sold in Canada have for the past three years, been running at the rate of $18,000,000 to $20,000,000 per year. Under the system in effect since August 1, 1943, millers and other manufacturers of wheat products have been required to refund all drawback which would have put them into the excess profits category.

The field of price control in Canada is being progressively narrowed and the government is of the opinion that the Canadian wheat board should no longer be required to sell wheat for domestic consumption at $125 per bushel. Accordingly the government has decided that Wheat shall be sold for domestic consumption on the same basis as provided in the United Kingdom contract. The government has therefore directed the Canadian wheat board to advance the domestic price of wheat to $1.55 per bushel plus carrying charges. This direction is effective at once.

I wish to state explicitly that prevailing ceiling prices on flour, bread, mill feeds and other wheat products are not affected by this change in the board's selling price of wheat for domestic consumption. The government, through the treasury, will continue as in the past to make wheat available to millers and other processors at prices appropriate to these ceilings. The government regards this continuation of price ceilings on flour, bread and other wheat products as a necessaiy part of its programme of orderly decontrol.

The feed wheat subsidy of 25 cents per bushel is being continued, but the increase in price to $1.55 per bushel plus carrying charges will mean an increase of slightly over 30 cents per bushel in wheat used for feed in Canada. Because of the continued overseas demand for wheat for human food, the government feels that as far as possible grains other than wheat should be used for feed purposes in this country.

I should like also to announce at this time that the Canadian wheat board is today establishing open delivery quotas for oats and barley, effective immediately for the remainder of the crop year.

Topic:   INCREASE IN DOMESTIC PRICE TO SI .55 PER BUSHEL PLUS CARRYING CHARGES
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

Am I correct in my understanding of the minister's statement that the price to producers of wheat for that portion formerly sold for domestic purposes will now be $1.55 where it has been SI.25?

Topic:   INCREASE IN DOMESTIC PRICE TO SI .55 PER BUSHEL PLUS CARRYING CHARGES
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LIB

James Angus MacKinnon (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MacKINNON:

That is right.

Topic:   INCREASE IN DOMESTIC PRICE TO SI .55 PER BUSHEL PLUS CARRYING CHARGES
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

And through the action of the government of bonusing millers it is not expected that the price of flour and other such products will be increased, as a result of this action by the government?

Topic:   INCREASE IN DOMESTIC PRICE TO SI .55 PER BUSHEL PLUS CARRYING CHARGES
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LIB

James Angus MacKinnon (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MacKINNON:

That is right.

Topic:   INCREASE IN DOMESTIC PRICE TO SI .55 PER BUSHEL PLUS CARRYING CHARGES
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LABOUR CONDITIONS

COAL MINERS' STRIKE IN THE MARITIME PROVINCES

LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, the house will no doubt wish to have a statement from me in connection with the conference which was held on Saturday between representatives of the United Mine Workers of America and the collieries operated by the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation Limited, Nova Scotia, over which I presided.

I regret to say that it was not possible at that conference, to find a basis of compromise between the conflicting positions of the parties.

It will be recollected that in the latter part of January I appointed the Hon. Mr. Justice W. F. Carroll, of the supreme court of Nova Scotia, a commissioner to deal with the dispute and that the commissioner's report was laid on the table of the house on February 13.

Following conferences between the parties held in Ottawa in January, in which I and officials of my department participated, the original demands of the union were reduced to three; namely, (a) a wage increase of $1.40 per shift; (b) 8 cents per ton on coal produced for the establishment of a welfare fund; (c) a 5 per cent contribution by the company on payroll to a pension fund which would also be contributed to by the employees concerned.

Prior to this, the company had made a proposal to the union that it would increase wages to a maximum of $1 per shift on the basis of an increase in production, the increase in wages to be on a graduated scale until the pre-war levels of production had been reached, at which point the maximum increase in wages of $1 would be payable.

Penitentiaries

The recommendation of the commissioner was that the increase in wages asked for by the men was justified and that there was also justification for the establishment of welfare and pension funds.

In dealing with the wage recommendation, however, the commissioner approved the proposal of the company as to the graduated increase of SI per shift based on production, the additional 40 cents to make up the total of SI.40 per shift, to be obtained by other means.

Basically, the conflict between the company and the union is one of principle. The company's position is that it cannot agree to any increase in the wage rate except on the basis of increased production. The union states that production is wholly a managerial problem and one over which the individual miners or the union have no control.

It was admitted at the conference on Saturday that the absentee problem in the collieries owned by the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation was a serious one and the union representatives were willing to agree to a provision in a new contract which would obligate it to deal cooperatively and effectively with that problem as well as with the problem of production.

Production figures supplied to me recently by the office of the government coal administrator, for Dosco and associated companies, show a serious falling off in production per man days since 1939. These figures are as

follows:

Production

Production Man Days Per Man (net tons) Worked Day

net tons

1939

6,335,282 2,626,589 2.411944

4,992,890 3,031,417 1.651945

4,395,673 2,822,860 1.561946

4,660,629 2,902,241 1.61

I understand the measurement used is the

long ton.

The position of the company is that it feels it must get production back to pre-war levels in order to place its operations on a sound economic footing and that no further increase in wages can be permitted unless increased production can be obtained.

At the conclusion of the conference Saturday evening, I left the way open for representatives of the company and the union to confer with myself and departmental officials today. However, representatives of the company thought they should return to their headquarters on account of the cessation of work in the mines.

Representatives of the miners are stiilil in Ottawa and conferences are being held with them today. I have nothing, however, at the present time to report which would give hope that a solution is in sight.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   COAL MINERS' STRIKE IN THE MARITIME PROVINCES
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?

Mr. COLD WELL@

Has the minister a breakdown of the number of men employed on the face of the coal seam in comparison with the total number of men employed by Dosco! It is an important point.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   COAL MINERS' STRIKE IN THE MARITIME PROVINCES
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I shall endeavour to get the information for my hon. friend. I have an approximate figure, but if I can get the correct figure I shall be glad to do so.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   COAL MINERS' STRIKE IN THE MARITIME PROVINCES
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RAILWAY COMMITTEE

CHANGE IN PERSONNEL OF STANDING COMMITTEE


Right Hon. IAN A. MACKENZIE (Minister of Veterans Affairs) moved: That the name of Mr. Drope, of Northumberland, Ontario, be added to the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines. I understand this name was inadvertently omitted when the list was prepared. Motion agreed to.


PENITENTIARIES

REPORT OF COMMISSIONER-ADMINISTRATION OF PENITENTIARIES

LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Right Hon. J. L. ILSLEY (Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to lay on the table the report of General R. B. Gibson, commissioner appointed under Order in Council P.C. 1313 of April 5, 1946, to make an inquiry into and recommendations regarding the penitentiaries system of Canada.

I believe I should refer to one passage in the report, which is as follows:

The government has recently decided that for the present it is preferable to entrust the administration of the penitentiaries of Canada to a single commissioner assisted by two deputy commissioners, with a headquarters organization consisting of the inspectors and staff of the present penitentiaries branch, the inspectors being reclassified as assistant commissioners.

I should say that General Gibson did not feel he should be asked, and indeed he was not asked, to make any recommendation on the point as to whether the Archambault report should be varied in that respect. That is the decision of the government, however, which has been arrived at for reasons which we regard as good, and which will be given to the house when penitentiaries legislation is introduced later this session.

Questions

Topic:   PENITENTIARIES
Subtopic:   REPORT OF COMMISSIONER-ADMINISTRATION OF PENITENTIARIES
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QUESTIONS


(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.)


INCOME TAX-SASKATCHEWAN HOSPITAL FEE

February 17, 1947