June 24, 1948

LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I am afraid my answers are not to my hon. friend's liking.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

What about the contract with displaced persons? It is nearly eleven o'clock now.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I shall be here tomorrow. It is not a contract. It is an understanding. It is not a contract enforceable at law. I was charged with the responsibility of developing that idea, and it was done solely for the purpose of protecting the people involved. We took the position that these people should not be brought to Canada to undercut the living standards of our own people. I think it has worked out remarkably well. I have no knowledge of the denial of the right to any of these people to belong to any organization: I know a certain political party in this country-I am not referring to my hon. friend's party-which has gone out of its way to try to influence these people into a line of thinking such as they have left behind them in their home countries. On my own street I have seen girls who came to this country only six months ago from displaced persons camps, and you would never recognize them now for the same people. They look healthier; they are better dressed; they are happier; they are glad to be here. I have

Supply-Labour

in my files scores and scores of letters from men and women who have come to Canada from displaced persons camps and who are happy to be living in this land of freedom.

Let me say to those who talk so much about conditions in this country that I have some knowledge of the people who want to come to Canada. I have some knowledge in my department anyway of the people who want to come to Canada. I do not know of any applications to go back to the countries to which I have referred. Everybody wants to come to North America or to go to somewhere in the British commonwealth. Not long ago I talked to the minister of immigration of Australia. They are anxious to get these good people to emigrate to that country. I think they have set a target of 75,000 for the coming year. The only thing that is holding them up is the provision of shipping. In the years to come, I think these good people from these camps in Europe will give full credit to the Canadian people for the contribution they made to permit them to make a new start in life. Let us be decent about the matter. Let us approach them as human beings. I think it can be truthfully said that, as far as the government is concerned, we are doing our very best to see that these people are placed with good employers, without in any way impairing the living standards of the men and women engaged in industry.

I know, and the hon. member knows, there are people in this country who say that if you are not a communist you are a fascist. I know there are people in this country who are going up and down this land and giving statements to the newspapers. I know them by reputation. They say that everybody who does not agree with them is a fascist. I have never taken that point of view. This country could very well get along without these people. If they do not like the country in which they live, for goodness sake let them go to the country they like.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I do not want the committee or the minister to get the impression that I was quarreling with the government for bringing displaced persons into this country. What I had in mind was whether, in the face of the unemployment problem in Canada, there was co-operation and understanding between the immigration branch, which is bringing them in, and the Department of Labour to see to it that they were brought in and placed in sections of Canada where they would not displace our own people? The minister did not answer that question.

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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Perhaps he will answer tomorrow. I have a great admiration for the selective service department which was set up during the war. I do not think the minister had a more effective section of his department in Canada. They did an excellent job. I was disappointed because, as soon as the war finished, the offices were closed. The greatest contribution that that section of the minister's department could make was in the transition from war to peace when it was really necessary, to a large extent, to a greater extent in fact than it was during the war, to direct the employer and the employee. That function dropped off.

When I said that I thought that, sooner or later, these employment agencies which work in co-operation with the unemployment insurance offices would resume that function. May I say that I believe they will in the not far distant future-I was not suggesting the police state. It is much better for a young fellow or a young girl to walk into an office in any section of Canada, speak to the placement officers and ask them if they have anything on the board in the way of employment in the town or city and to have the clerk in the office refer to the board and say, "Yes, So-and-so wants so many people", and be able to call that employer and have some authority to direct the boy or girl that is on the street to some kind of gainful employment under some kind of government supervision than to have what we have now, these young people walking the streets.

You have these offices set up across Canada, but employers are not using them. They are not placing their requirements in your employment insurance offices and in the hands of the placement officers. They have gone back to the point where they say they will hire whom they like, with the result that there are a lot of boys and girls on the road in Canada today with no employment, although there is employment if they were directed to it. For the minister to construe that kind of attitude as advocating the police state is not fair. I do not think he did so deliberately. I think he did so because he misunderstood exactly what I meant. What I meant was a place to which the unemployed of any town or city in Canada could go and receive some kind of intelligent direction into employment that exists in that city; but because of the haphazard method adopted now by employers and by those agencies, those who want work have no direction in finding it, and those who need employees are not in the position where they can place their orders with some recognized

Supply-Labour

responsible body to which the employees could be referred. That is all I meant by that.

The minister has not answered for my benefit the question on the type of contract under which displaced persons are brought to this country.

As I said this afternoon, when I made a few remarks to the Minister of Mines and Resources, if we are bringing displaced persons in from Europe for humanitarian reasons, for the purpose of rebuilding them and getting them back on their feet from the standpoint of health and the building of morale, that is fine. I am all for it. But the first obligation of the people of Canada and the government of Canada is to our own people, especially when one considers the unemployment that we have in the maritimes. As 'the minister knows, there are approximately 27,000 registered unemployed seeking work in Canada. It is the responsibility of the government of Canada to see that they are placed. To all intents and purposes they are displaced persons. We lose approximately 15,000 of these young people to the United States every year. In fact, we have been doing that for the last fifty years. It is time that we started to keep these young people at home in Canada. That is our best immigration.

The minister says that the policy of the government is not to undermine the standards of the people of Canada by bringing displaced persons in. I am not suggesting that it is government policy, but I am suggesting that some employers in this country will use these people for -that purpose unless the government is on its toes and sees that it is not done.

The main object of my questions this afternoon to the Minister of Mines and Resources was to make sure that the Minister of Labour, through whose department these people are brought in, consults with the lumber industry and the union in that particular industry to see that wages, conditions and standards are kept up in so far as these people are concerned. The same thing applies to the textile mills. There should be co-operation with the textile workers' union.

The minister made a statement in the house at one time that they had done that with those who were brought in for the needle trades. He said they were brought in with the co-operation and understanding of the garment workers' union. If that is still done, that is fine. But I pointed out to the minister a few moments ago that I received a letter from northern Quebec to the effect that in the gold mining industry of that section of the country displaced persons who were brought in there were under a year's contract, and during that year

they had practically no freedom to do anything except to work out the year under whatever conditions the management of the industry laid down. It is on these points that I want to be assured. My principal objective in asking these questions was to find out what will happen to the 27,000 displaced persons in the maritimes who are seeking employment in other parts of Canada.

A few moments ago the minister said that the arrangements in his department to move them to other parts of Canada were still in effect. Well, I remember distinctly-and I am now speaking from memory-questioning the minister on this point during the present session. He informed the house at that time that the regulations under which they had moved some 4,000 people from the maritimes into central Canada expired in October, 1947. As far as I know, until the present time these regulations have not been re-enacted or revised, and it is on these points that I want some assurance.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Eleven o'clock.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario asked for leave to discuss item 137, though we had passed it. That discussion took place, and I think we should pass 137. Item 142 is the one before the committee.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

I think you must be moving very fast, Mr. Chairman. I can follow fairly swift counting, but I have only got as far as item 138.

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LIB
LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

The hon.

member for Muskoka-Ontario asked to have item 137 discussed, and we were past that. We were past item 141. He also wished to say something on item 138. Item 137 we should pass now, and item 142 is the one before the committee.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

I am agreeable to item 137 passing.

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Item agreed to.


CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

On item 138 I wish to ask the minister some questions.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I wish to reply to the hon. member for Cape Breton South and the hon. member for Vancouver East, and I think we had better wait until tomorrow.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

We may be in a better humour tomorrow.

Progress reported.

Supply-Mines and Resources

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

Tomorrow we

shall consider the amendment of the senate to Bill No. 338, respecting income tax. Then we shall proceed with Bill No. 395, which is an income tax agreement between Canada and New Zealand; then Bill No. 396, the Foreign Exchange Control Act, then Bill No. 397, to amend the Emergency Exchange Conservation Act. Then we shall go into supply on the estimates of labour, fisheries, national revenue, defence, public works, legislation and veterans affairs.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. [The following items were passed in committee of supply]:


DEPARTMENT OP MINES AND RESOURCES

June 24, 1948