June 24, 1947

BANKING AND COMMERCE


Seventh report of standing committee on banking and commerce.-Mr. Cleaver.


POST-UNRRA RELIEF EUROPEAN COUNTRIES-PROPOSED APPROPRIATION FOR 1947 NEEDS

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a brief statement on the present problem of post-UNRRA relief, in relation, more particularly to an appropriation for that purpose which the government proposes to recommend to parliament. The Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Bridges) has a statement which he desires to make respecting fisheries. It will

include mention of one of the methods suggested by Canada to provide a part of Canada's contribution to post-UNRRA relief. The minister's statement will follow immediately the statement I am now about to make.

As all hon. members are aware, one of the great problems of the post-war period has been the provision of food and other basic essentials of life to the devastated countries of Europe. It will be recalled that the question of post-UNRRA relief was urgently discussed by the united nations general assembly at its last session in New York. Because the programme of UNRRA was coming to an end before the real need of the peoples in war-devastated countries had been fully met, the general assembly recognized that certain countries must receive financial assistance in 1947 to avert hunger, privation and suffering.

Canada had played a leading role in relief operations both during and after the war, and the Canadian government was in strong support of continuing international action to meet-genuine relief needs. However, it became clear at the second part of the first session of the general assembly that a new approach to the problem would be necessary. To this end, the Canadian delegation introduced a proposal which was embodied in a resolution adopted by the assembly on December 11, 1946. This resolution established a special technical committee of experts, on which Canada was represented,, to study the minimum import requirements of needy countries. The committee thus constituted took into consideration the carry-over of relief goods from UNRRA into 1947 and estimated the probable receipts from exports from each country, together with resources which could be regarded as available from foreign loans and credits, shipping receipts, remittances and other sources of foreign currency. According to the committee's report, European countries which had been receiving relief required $583 million of financial assistance.

Intimately linked with this proposal was the question of providing to specially vulnerable groups, such as children and adolescents, in the war-devastated countries the food, clothing and other essential supplies which they require. To meet this requirement, a concrete united nations plan was agreed upon. The general assembly established by unanimous resolution the international childrens emergency fund. The prime purpose of the fund is to provide for children, adolescents and nursing mothers in countries which were victims of aggression, but it will also be used

Post-UNRRA Relief

for child health purposes generally. The fund has presented a tentative budget of $450 million, having as its principal objective one 700-calorie meal a day for twenty million children.

The funds is to be financed by any residual assets made available by UNRRA, by direct contributions from governments and by contributions from voluntary agencies or individuals. The amount of assistance available from UNRRA for this purpose is not likely to be large. Receiving countries might, however, contribute $200 million from their own resources. This would leave a balance of approximately $250 million to be secured from government and from voluntary contributions in other countries.

In the absence of relief on a scale at least approaching the sums recommended by the united nations technical committee, there will be serious hardship and possibly actual starvation in a number oif European countries this year, particularly in the period prior to the harvests in Europe this summer and autumn. In May 1047 the United States Congress authorized an appropriation of $350 million for relief purposes, to be dispensed by arrangements made directly with the needy countries and expressly limited to Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, China and the Free Territory of Trieste. This amount includes a sum of $40 million, all or part of which may go to the international children's emergency fund. We have been informed that other states have responded to this emergency by providing funds for relief.

In the light of the need which we believe exists, the action of other countries in that regard, and the availability of surplus food supplies in Canada, the government has decided to recommend to parliament an appropriation of $20 million for post-UNRRA relief needs in 1947. This sum which would be spent subject to such terms and conditions as may be approved by the governor in council, would include a contribution of approximately $5 million to the international children's emergency fund. The remainder of the sum would provide relief to certain specified countries, and would be administered by Canada in. consultation with other states which are adopting similar measures.

Topic:   POST-UNRRA RELIEF EUROPEAN COUNTRIES-PROPOSED APPROPRIATION FOR 1947 NEEDS
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PURCHASES OF FISH-PROCLAMATION OF FISHERIES PRICES SUPPORT ACT

LIB

Hedley Francis Gregory Bridges (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. H. F. G. BRIDGES (Minister of Fisheries):

Mr. Speaker, for some time the government of Canada has been giving careful consideration to the proclamation of the Fisheries Prices Support Act, 1944, and to the

type of fish that the act should first apply to. This problem has been closely interwoven with what the government's policy on post-UNRRA relief would be, and also with the trade and tariff negotiations at present going on in Geneva. These negotiations have been and are being closely watched by the Department. of Fisheries, the deputy minister of fisheries having been present at Geneva during some of the negotiations on fish.

As the government's policy on post-UNRRA relief has just been announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), I am now in a position to make a statement indicating the intention of the Canadian government on the matter of purchases of fish for relief for the 1947-48 production, and on the matter of proclaiming the Fisheries Prices Support Act, 1944.

As part of its contribution to international relief the government feels that it can make available out of Canada's production of fish during the present fiscal year, quantities of canned and salted fish of types suited to relief feeding. The types to be purchased will be dried salted cod, haddock, hake, pollock and cusk, pickled barrelled fish (herring, mackerel and alewives), bloaters, canned herring and canned mackerel and chicken haddie. In the case of salted fish which is produced mainly in eastern Canada, the commercial export markets are reasonably firm, but in frozen fish both the home and export markets are weak. It is the government's hope that the industry will divert as much raw codfish as possible to salting rather than to freezing. The government will be prepared to buy, at prices to be determined, up to 10,000,000 pounds of dried salted cod and related species, up to 40,000 barrels of pickled fish, up to

50.000 boxes of bloaters, up to 900,000 cases of west coast canned herring, and up to

100.000 cases of eastern canned fish, the latter being in addition to the current purchases being made in the east by UNRRA. It is hoped that quantities of cod and related species of fish can also be diverted from the frozen outlet into the canned form.

The details of the methods of purchase, of prices and other terms of contract cannot be announced until after discussion with the industry, and members of the industry are being invited to Ottawa to discuss this and related matters next week. The purchases however will likely be handled by the Canadian Commercial Corporation. The prices to be paid for this fish by the government will not necessarily be at the levels at which UNRRA has purchased in the past season. Many raw fish prices have declined recently, and the increased volume of activity which

Post-L'NRRA Relief

these government purchases will provide to fishermen and operators should contribute to a lowering of costs. The government will, however, in establishing the prices give due attention to the raw fish prices being paid to fishermen. As I mentioned earlier, these operations are confined to the 1947-48 season, that is to the current fiscal year, and the government in no way commits itself to a continuation of relief purchases next fiscal year.

Of the $20 million just announced by the Prime Minister to be made available for post-UNRRA relief, up to $8,000,000 will be made available for fish purchases. This amount, it should be noted, will be confined to purchases of fish of the salted and canned varieties. For some time, however, the government has been endeavouring to find additional outlets for frozen fish in European markets, either through commercial channels or through relief purchases. Despite this attention no substantial market for frozen fish has been found in Europe. Exchange difficulties in some countries, lack of merchandising facilities for handling frozen fish in others, and expansion of Europe's own fish production have all militated against frozen fish exports. In the United States, the only remaining substantial export market, competition from expanded United States production and from the products of Newfoundland and Iceland have contributed to a lowering of prices, and have slowed down the rate of Canadian sales of frozen fish. In the circumstances the government believes that the solution to the frozen fish problem depends on increasing the consumption of frozen fillets in the domestic market. To effect such an expansion of our home market has its difficulties, but is a solution, as many hon. members pointed out in the recent debate on the fisheries research board bill, which would have a lasting benefit to the industry, and which should be physicall}' possible since Canadians consume only some 10,000,000 pounds of frozen fillets annually, or something like three-quarters of a pound per head. To take care of the frozen branch of the industry the government is prepared to proclaim immediately the Fisheries Prices Support Act 1944. Under that act a board will be established with five members and with advisory committees from the industry-both management and fishermen.

The act gives the board powers to buy and sell fish and to prescribe prices. The board will be established without delay. It will confine its operations during the present fiscal year to fish produced during the remainder of the 1947 season. It will be asked to prepare in collaboration with industry a

general distributional programme, including advertising, designed to increase domestic sales of fish of all species and kinds, and particularly packaged fish, and in particular to consider the specific species of the east, prairies and British Columbia in which the prices received by fishermen from the freezers are unduly low in 1947, and to devise means of maintaining these prices at or near their current levels. This programme of support will be related to the domestic market only. The government wishes it to be clearly understood that it is not prepared to support or subsidize the export trade in frozen fillets. The attention of the board, as I have just stated, is to be devoted mainly to the expansion of the domestic market. This expansion will be aligned to a new government programme of improving the quality, the grading of packaged fish, and the standards of inspection will be set up accordingly.

The prices support programme therefore for 1947 is aimed at expanding domestic consumption by improving quality and by giving close attention to the distribution costs of the industry which hitherto have tended to hold retail prices at levels that limited1 consumption. The programme of the board will be confined to the remainder of 1947 production. So far as fishermen are concerned, their current prices should be well maintained during the season, first by relief purchases of salted and canned fish, and second by the operations of the support board in maintaining fishermen's prices and in making additional sales of frozen fish on the domestic market.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Canadian people will welcome the announcement of the Prime Minister with respect to the provision of $20 million for the post-UNRRA relief fund, and particularly the provision of $5 million out of that amount for the children's emergency fund. I believe I should take this opportunity to compliment the Minister of Fisheries upon the timeliness of his announcement.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Good old Halifax!

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

It took a by-election to do it.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I am sure he had nothing like that in mind when he made the announcement.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

A dirty insinuation!

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

It is very appropriate that the Fisheries Prices Support Act should be proclaimed at this time, and I am sure the

Post-XJNRRA Relief

fishermen of the maritimes will welcome the announcement that $8,000,000 will be spent in the purchase of fish for relief purposes in Europe.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

And relief here.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

British Columbia also.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

This raises another question which I brought up the other day and which has not been answered, namely, the government policy with respect to apples. The minister of agriculture of Nova Scotia according to press reports has intimated that the British government will not be in the market for apples this year, and there are grave doubts whether a market will be found for our apples. Two or three days ago I asked the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) to make a statement on this matter, and he said he would consult the other ministers and then one of them would make a statement. I suggest that this would be an appropriate time for some minister to make a statement of policy with respect to markets for Canadian apples.

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LIB

Hedley Francis Gregory Bridges (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRIDGES:

In fairness to the statement which I have just made, I would direct the attention of the leader of the opposition to the fact that of the $8,000,000 to be spent for relief purposes, the larger proportion will be spent in British Columbia.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I was hoping that a matter of this kind would1 be looked upon by all members of the house as something we were doing for humanity, and that our own marketing difficulties would be only incidental to the decision of the government. I am pleased to know that something is to be done for the relief of the people of Europe.

I think the Canadian delegation to the second part of the assembly of the united nations which met last year played a most important part in the effort to set up an international organization. That an intergovernmental committee of experts was established was due to the fact that Mr. La Guardia told the spokesman for the Canadian delegation, who happened to be the Minister of National Health and Welfare, that he would be reads' to accept any scheme that Canada suggested.

I think we could do a lot more out of our resources, but I am glad indeed to say something in appreciation of the announcement that has just been made.

Mr. SOLON E. LOW (Peace River): Mr. Speaker, I think all of us are pleased to hear

that the government is determined to do something with respect to furnishing post-UNRRA relief to needy Europe. The announcement seems to be timely in that only yesterday one of the New York papers reported that persons in the United States are receiving thousands of parcels from Greece. Apparently the people there have been made to understand that the people of the United States are starving under the capitalist system. It seems to me that we should assist in gathering up those thousands of parcels and sending them back in order that the people in Greece may know that a capitalist society can more than match anything that is done or is being done by a communist society.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

May I ask one supplementary question of the Minister of Fisheries? In view of his last statement, can the house be given some assurance that the fishermen of Halifax riding will not be entirely overlooked in these purchases?

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LIB

Hedley Francis Gregory Bridges (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRIDGES:

The fishermen of Nova Scotia and Halifax have shown good judgment in the past, and I aim sure they will show good judgment in the future.

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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I will gladly support this measure provided that it is made certain that' needy children will get the food.

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June 24, 1947