May 4, 1951

PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I am just trying to be helpful.

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

That is about your style of helping. The statement continues:

That is the policy which the Canadian wheat board is following at the present time, and it is a policy which I should like to see continued. It is in fact the only practical way to conduct such an operation, be it government or private. I remind hon. members that when the private pools were being conducted in western Canada in the 1920's that was the procedure which was followed-initial payments, interim payments and final payments.

With these considerations in mind, the government proposes to establish the initial payment for wheat for the crop year 1951-52 at $1.40 per bushel, basis No. 1 northern wheat

Grain

in store Fort William-Port Arthur or Vancouver. This is the same initial payment which prevailed at the beginning of the present crop year.

In the case of oats, the government has decided that the initial payment for 1951-52 shall also be at the same level as at the beginning of the 1950-51 crop year. Accordingly the initial payment effective August 1 next will be 65 cents per bushel for No. 2 Canada western oats in store Fort William-Port Arthur.

With respect to barley, the government proposes to set the initial payment at 96 cents per bushel for No. 3 Canada western six row barley, basis in store Fort William-Port Arthur. This is three cents per bushel higher than the initial payment which was effective for that grade at the beginning of the present crop year. When the grade spreads are announced next August, however, it is not expected that the initial payments for the feeding grades of barley will show any increase. The reason for advancing the initial payment for No. 3 C.W. six row barley is to provide for a more realistic premium for the malting grades over the feeding grades, without necessarily reducing the initial payments for the feeding grades.

Finally I must stress that all the prices which I have mentioned are, of course, only initial payments, and will be followed, I hope, by later returns in the form of interim and final payments. The total price received by producers will depend upon the success of the Canadian wheat board's efforts in selling these grains at the best available prices.

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ross (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask two supplementary questions. First, has any consideration been given to a floor price on flax for this crop year, as has been done in past years, particularly when flax is so urgently required for preparations in the event of war?

My second question is in connection with the delegation which interviewed the cabinet recently, and the request from the three prairie provinces for a payment of $48 million for two years following the last war. There was a delegation in Ottawa within the last few days, and there have been press reports. Could the minister give us a definite statement in the matter?

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

No consideration has been given to fixing a floor price for flax. We have in flax a condition which my hon. friend praises from time to time in his speeches, where private trading is in charge of (he marketing. We think flax is capable of looking after itself.

Inquiries of the Ministry

So far as the delegation from the farm organizations was concerned, the Prime Minister found it necessary to advise the delegation that payment in full had been announced in so far as the marketing of the wheat in the five-year pool is concerned.

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a further supplementary question. Does the minister think there is any possible danger that the price of wheat may fall so drastically that in order to follow sound business practices the initial price must be set some fifty cents a bushel below the current price?

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

The minister is neither a prophet nor a seer; I do not think he would care to venture an answer. But I may say that the advisers of the government, who are all from the prairie provinces and engaged in agriculture, who recommended entering into the international wheat agreement made provision that the minimum price for wheat for the year 1951-52 would be $1.30 per bushel. So that the government is at least more optimistic than those who framed the international wheat agreement.

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

Farm organizations did ask for a floor of $1.60?

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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IND

John Lambert Gibson

Independent

Mr. Gibson:

Oh, they ask for a lot.

Topic:   INITIAL PRICES FOR WESTERN WHEAT, OATS AND BARLEY FOR 1951 CROP YEAR
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NATIONAL DEFENCE

PRESS REPORT AS TO STATEMENT RESPECTING ADDITIONS TO ARMED FORCES


On the orders of the day:


PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. R. Pearkes (Nanaimo):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the press report last night and today that the Minister of National Defence intends to make an important statement in the house today with respect to additions to the armed forces, will the Prime Minister say whether the report is correct, and if it is, will he give the approximate hour at which such statement will be made?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   PRESS REPORT AS TO STATEMENT RESPECTING ADDITIONS TO ARMED FORCES
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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Perhaps the hon. member would not mind if the answer to his question were given by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence, who, I understand, has an answer to give.

Mr. R. O. Campney (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National

Defence': Mr. Speaker, in answer to the hon. member's question, if the house will give leave it is expected that when the house resumes at eight o'clock this evening the Minister of National Defence will make a statement as to the raising of additional forces.

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Dion in the chair.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   PRESS REPORT AS TO STATEMENT RESPECTING ADDITIONS TO ARMED FORCES
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DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR


185. Departmental administration, $558,397.


PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Does the Minister of

Labour propose to make a statement at this time?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. Milton F. Gregg (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to make any extended statement now. If I did I would be inclined to talk about matters that have particularly interested me in the short time I have been with the department. I would much prefer to listen to hon. members and then perhaps comment on the things in which they indicate they are specially interested. One or two other departments have been opened, yet I do not think there would be any harm in my referring to the changes that have been made this year in the presentation of the estimates.

To illustrate this, if hon. members will turn to pages 216 and 217 they will observe under the heading "Departmental Administration" that there is set out the total number of staff positions, both permanent and temporary, for which provision is made this year in the estimates. There is also shown the total number of such positions under this heading for the previous fiscal year. I am sure that that answers some of the criticism of former years.

Just below those totals is a break-down of the staff positions, giving the number of permanent and temporary positions, and there are also shown the figures for last year. Further down, at the end of the details of departmental administration on page 217, are shown the actual expenditures under the same head for the last fiscal year, to January 31, 1951, and the estimated

expenditures for the remainder of the year. I am sure that the work of the officials of the Department of Finance in assembling these details will prove most helpful.

If perchance in speaking on the first item any hon. member should discuss other items which appear later in the estimates, I should like to have the opportunity of commenting on those items when they are reached.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

That is entirely contrary to

the practice in committee in dealing with estimates. There has always been a wide discussion on the first item, and the minister in charge answers any questions that are asked during the course of that discussion. I hope the Minister of Labour does not mean that he will decline to answer questions which could be asked on later items.

'Hr. Howe.l

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

As my hon. friend knows, the Minister of Labour is responsible' for the Department of Labour and for the unemployment insurance commission. There might be points raised which I should like to refer to the officials of the commission and which I might And it difficult to answer if only the officials from the Department of Labour are here. I only wish to reserve the right to postpone answering any question that might come up in the general discussion of the first item, but I shall endeavour to answer all questions that I can.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Mr. Chairman, in rising

to speak to this item I should like first of all to compliment the Minister of Labour upon his first presentation of estimates for a complete year. I believe the announcement which he has made and the attention which he has drawn to the re-arrangement of the estimates will prove to be helpful. As we go along we shall be better able to determine whether or not they completely fill the requirements of this committee in dealing with estimates.

I come from the city of Hamilton, where we all had a soft spot in our heart for Humphrey Mitchell, the minister's predecessor. I am sure the minister will understand how keenly we felt his loss a short time ago. It is not given to man to know how long he has to continue his labours, and I am sure that the minister must benefit greatly by the work done by his predecessor. I know that the house benefited from the sage advice which he gave from time to time.

There may be questions I shall want to ask on the various items, but at this time I should like to make some general remarks on the labour situation in Canada, on the estimates in general, and to some extent on the unemployment insurance commission.

I think it is most important at this time that labour in Canada should have proper and workable industrial relations. I feel that it is more vital now than at any time in our history that there should be harmony among the productive forces of this nation. I do not think it is possible to have harmony unless men are happy and contented, not only with their employment but with their conditions of employment and their status in the community in which they serve. .

Coming as I do from the city of Hamilton I am greatly interested in the plans which have been made for workers in our community. When I speak of these plans I am thinking not only of the working conditions of the men but also of the expansion that is taking place in our great industries, an expansion which is sure to give in the days

Supply-Labour

to come employment to many thousands more than are now employed in our city.

With this in mind I was keenly interested a few short weeks ago in receiving the report produced by the Department of Trade and Commerce giving the details of private and public investment in Canada for 1951. According to page 33 of that report it is expected that in the calendar year 1951 there will be spent in Hamilton on construction, machinery and equipment, almost $100 million. The figure given in the report is $98,087,000, but I suppose we would be less than optimistic if we did not think it was going to go higher than that. The natural increase in prices is sure to account for some increase in this amount.

In the iron and steel industry alone there is an expected expenditure of nearly $67 million. Electrical apparatus and supplies comes next; then petroleum products; then chemical products; then food and beverages. There then follow a number of sundry items, and when all are taken together we have the amount of approximately $100 million which I have mentioned already.

Considering the number of men who have gone into our military services and those who probably will go into those services in the near future, it is more important than ever that the men and women who are left to carry the production load in the industries of this nation should feel that their efforts are appreciated and realize that the load which has fallen more heavily upon them by reason of their depleted numbers is one which will be shared by the citizens of this nation as a whole in the days which are to come.

I am sure it was just such a realization that prompted the minister to set up the national advisory council on manpower in February 5 of this year. The first report of that committee, published under date of February 21, contained some very interesting material. It. referred to the fact that there had been specific changes in the manpower situation which were indicative of the basic economic and related developments of the past year. It stated that there are 50,000 more persons in the total labour force, 40,000 more workers employed in woods operations, 70,000 more persons employed in manufacturing, and 17,000 more persons in the armed forces.

Of course that situation has changed even in the past three months. Later, the report goes on to say:

Accurate over-all information on the extent to which individual firms with defence contracts have already taken on more workers to meet their expanded programs is net yet available, but, based on the employment forecast survey of the Department of Labour and other data, it is estimated that employment on various types of defence activities

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Supply-Labour

comes to naught if that same authority cannot so regulate its affairs as to ensure fair and proper treatment to its employees.

I should like to direct the rest of my remarks, Mr. Chairman, to the Unemployment Insurance Act and some of its regulations.

The primary object of the Unemployment Insurance Act is to provide for the employable person who suffers a period of unemployment. Members of this house will recall what the workers of the nation know, that this responsibility is jointly shared by three different groups. It is the responsibility of the employee to contribute his share to this scheme. It is the duty of the employer to assist by contributing a like amount, and the government has taken the responsibility of making the third side to the triangle by building up a fund which will serve the purpose for which the act was brought into being. With the enactment of the Unemployment Insurance Act, jurisdiction over employable persons left the provinces and was vested in the federal authorities. Yet now, Mr. Chairman, many years later, we have in the civilian labour force of Canada something over 5,200,000 persons. According to the latest report which I have at hand, the total number who are insured is 2,311,000; in other words, considerably less than half of the total labour force is listed as being in insurable employment.

This has been a matter of concern to many groups, and just recently was studied by the public welfare division of the Canadian welfare council. In referring to those who needed some consideration and who were not adequately provided for, it cites the unemployed and the self-employed who are not covered by insurance, and for whom in many communities no provision or inadequate provision is now made. Later in the same report there is a paragraph which reads as follows:

The group of unemployed who are not covered by insurance, who have not contributed sufficiently long to be eligible for benefits, or who, under the present insurance legislation, have exhausted their benefits, is a group for which the highly fluctuating numbers make planning the most difficult. In "good times," this group is relatively small; in "bad times," it can become so large that it is completely beyond the financial capacities of provincial and local authorities. The unpredictability of its size makes financing from inflexible local revenues impossible. Nor is it jurt that local authorities should be expected to carry the burden of a group which is indistinguishable from those covered by unemployment insurance except by the fact that its members work in occupations for which insurance presents administrative difficulties, or that they are the victims of employment conditions over which the provincial and local authorities have no control.

fMrs. Fairclough.l

This is a question which caused me grave concern during the time that I was on the city council of Hamilton, when I came into direct contact with this very problem. At that time I devoted a good deal of study to the problem, as I have since. There are many in this class of unemployed employables who never have been insured. Then there are those who are insured and who, when unemployment hits them, find that they have insufficient contributions to benefit. Regardless of the fact that they may have been paying into this fund for years, they will find that within the limits of the act, in the period to which they must have reference, they just happen to have an insufficient number of stamps in their book to enable them to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. There are those who fall upon particularly evil days and who receive unemployment insurance benefits but are forced to accept them for a length of time which eventually exhausts the benefits which are due to them.

Then there are those who are over-and I think I would be safe in saying this-45 years of age who are not particularly acceptable in many industries today, through no fault of their own. As workers they are just as good as, if not better than, some of the younger people. But I am sure hon. members of this committee know full well why they are not acceptable. It is true enough that some of the difficulty is the fault of the workers themselves who have from time to time insisted upon protection; and insurance companies being what they are, being dependent upon actuarial balances and wishing to establish themselves firmly, find that it is impossible to take older men into their insurance schemes.

I do not know where the fault lies, Mr. Chairman. It is a vicious circle. Certainly the men are right in seeking to protect themselves in their older years. But certainly it is also true that those who are financing these schemes and who feel that they must establish this insurance on an actuarially sound basis cannot be criticized for protecting the very contributions of the men who are paying into the fund. That is only right and proper; but it places the older man in a particularly bad position when he is thrown out of one job, probably through no fault of his own, and is forced to seek employment elsewhere. More often than not, that particular man finds that he is a drifter in the productive world. He takes a job where he can get one when workers are so much in demand that employers will take anyone; then when the labour force catches up with the demand, he is out again. Consequently

from that time on he has no continuity of employment and no hope of establishing himself for his old age.

There are also many people who work in agriculture in the summer; they drift out to the farms, work on the farms in the summer, come back into town in the wintertime and work in industry through the winter. Construction workers are encouraged to come to the city from other parts of Canada, and even from abroad. These people who come to the city for construction work have been told there is work there for them-I am speaking now in particular of those who come from other countries; they arrive in December and there is no work until March or April. This influx of building trades workers creates for the municipality a problem which is a grave one indeed.

Fortunately unemployment in 1951 was not moment the picture is bright. But in the year 1950 the local authorities in my city of Hamilton were greatly worried. As had been our custom, we had set up in the welfare budget an amount which we thought would be quite sufficient to take care of the unemployed employables for whom we must be responsible. I think I should explain, Mr. Chairman, to some of those who may not be familiar with the welfare regulations, that in Ontario the government accepts fifty per cent of the load of direct relief, and has laid down the rules by which that relief can be administered. It cannot be given to employables. Consequently if people are unemployed who would normally be placed in the employable class, they come immediately to the city for help. When their benefits are exhausted, or when they find that because of illness in the family they are unable to carry on, they come to the city for help. No local authorities will turn down applications for assistance to these people who have illness in the family or where there are small children to be taken care of. Consequently that load descends one hundred per cent upon the municipality.

We were faced with the problem a year ago when we set up an amount which was greater than that which had been set up in 1949, but which we thought would be adequate to take care of those people who came to us for assistance. However, the season was not far advanced when it was found necessary to supplement that amount by fifty per cent of the original figure. It was not a sufficiently serious situation to upset the economy of the city, by any means; but it was sufficiently serious that it pointed to what could easily happen with just a minor amount of unemployment in comparison with the total labour force.

80709-172^

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Tne impact of these welfare costs on the municipality puts a grave burden on real estate and on property. When the property is a home, and when the home owner himself is a wage earner and pays unemployment insurance, he carries a double load. He pays for his own unemployment insurance, and, through his real estate taxes, the taxes on his house, he also pays for relief to those within his own municipality who are unemployed. Since many of these people in the larger centres come from other parts of the dominion, some from rural areas and some from other cities, the home owner is faced with accepting the responsibility for the care of all those who come from other provinces, and even from other countries. I contend, Mr. Chairman, what I have held for a long time, namely, that it is not proper that the total cost should be borne by local real estate.

In studying this matter I went back to 1945, the proposals of the government of Canada to the dominion-provincial conference on reconstruction, and I found there these words:

Over the past seven or eight years there have been recommendations by the national employment commi-sion, the Sirois commission and others, that the dominion should assume responsibility for necessary relief to the employable unemployed. It has been generally suggested that the dominion should accept this obligation as part of any general settlement with the provinces.

Then it goes on, quotes unemployment figures, and continues in these words:

The coverage is incomplete and the duration of payments is limited, so that provincial governments and municipalities may feel that they are still subject to the possibility of heavy relief problems if unemployment on a substantial scale should develop.

The dominion government in its statement on employment and income announced that the maintenance of a nigh level of employment and income was "'a primary object of policy." The people of Canada and the provincial and municipal governments are thus assured of an active dominion policy to avoid and combat unemployment, but there is no underlying guarantee of payment of unemployment assistance by the dominion government if in fact unemployment should develop as a result of a possible world depression, or as a result of unavoidable dislocations beyond the immediate control of federal authority.

As a part of the general arrangement with the provincial governments, the dominion government now proposes to establish a practicable and comprehensive system of assistance to able-bodied unemployed persons as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the need for it actually arises.

That was in 1945. Then I went back still further, Mr. Chairman, to the report of the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations, which of course was before the Unemployment Insurance Act was passed, and I found these remarks in that report:

The experience of the past decade is conclusive evidence that unemployment relief should be a

Supply-Labour

dominion function. By unemployment relief we mean relief or aid for unemployed employables as distinct from unemployables.

On the next page there is an item which is headed "Definition of employability and eligibility for unemployment aid"; and, under this heading, it says:

Our proposal is that a clear line should be drawn between employables and unemployables and that the dominion should assume responsibility for employables only. In order to secure uniformity in the definition of employability, and hence equality of benefit for all provinces and municipalities, it would be essential that the definitions of employability and of eligibility for dominion aid be made by the dominion.

Then there is a footnote which elaborates this statement. I quote these excerpts, Mr. Chairman, from these reports to show the extent to which the problem has been recognized on a federal basis for many years, and yet to this day we have no acceptance of responsibility by the federal government for these people. When I make a plea for change in policy I do it on two different points: First of all, for the man himself and his family; and second, for the municipalities that are carrying such an unwieldy load of taxation, and for which there seems to be no immediate relief in sight. Any plan should be set up when there is no apparent urgency so that it may swing into action if and when any claims are made in either small or large volume.

The government has recognized the advisability of legislation of this sort. When I say that I mean introducing legislation at a time when there is no apparent immediate need for it, as is instanced by some of the legislation which has been passed by this house during the session. It should be recognized also in what is basically a non-defence department, although the workers in that department have an important effect on the defence preparations of the nation. It is unfortunate that it takes a war or the threat of a war to give our people full employment. For that specific reason I urge that this matter be considered as quickly as possible, so that the regulations may be geared to a peacetime economy.

As I mentioned earlier, there are in excess of three million workers in this country who are not covered by unemployment insurance, and there are some peculiar situations that develop. I received just this week two letters from men who have small farms, and who live close to the city of Hamilton. One of the men owns eight acres. I am sure everyone will agree that you cannot live on the production of eight acres of land. This land supplements his income by working in industry; or perhaps I should put it the other

way round: he supplements the earnings

which he makes in industry by what he takes off these eight acres of land. But he finds that although he has paid into the unemployment insurance fund for a number of years, and although he has been on steady employment for a number of years, yet he has been told by the officials that in the event of his being unemployed he could not benefit from unemployment insurance benefits because he is a farmer and owns a farm. Likewise, a friend of his, of whom I also have a record, was working for a construction company. He applied for unemployment insurance benefits and was told that he was not eligible because he had some property all set out in grapes. Although he had received no revenue from them, and the grapes were not yet ripe, and he had not yet been able to sell any, he could not get any unemployment insurance because of the potential revenue. Although he had contributed to the unemployment insurance fund for some time, he was not eligible for the benefits. These are cases that should be recognized because, Mr. Chairman, I find men working in greenhouses are listed as working in horticulture. Accordingly, there is a link-up with agriculture, and they are not insurable. Therefore on the one hand you have people who are not insurable and consequently would not be able to benefit from unemployment insurance in the event of their becoming unemployed. On the other hand, there are men who are paying into the fund and who cannot collect because they have a few acres of land.

There is still, Mr. Chairman, another item in the Unemployment Insurance Act of which I should like to speak at this time. It has to do with clause 5A (1) of the unemployment insurance benefit regulations, 1949. I am sure the minister is aware of this clause, and of some of the injustices which have been created by its enactment; but in order to refresh the memory of hon. members who may not be familiar enough with the act to recognize the clause by its number, I shall read the first subsection:

5A (1) Every married woman shall be disqualified from receiving benefit for the period of two years following her marriage unless she is relieved sooner from any such disqualification as provided in this section.

There are certain circumstances under which that does not obtain but, generally speaking, that is the ruling. I maintain that it is most unfair and, more than that, that it is unworkable. I do not know how it can be established that an individual has been laid off for any specific reason, because there is available only the word of the person concerned. There is only the word of the

employee as to the reasons for his remaining at work, and only the word of the employer as to the reasons for dismissal.

As I said before, I maintain this is a most unfair section. Of all the suggestions I have made today I would urge particularly that this section be repealed as quickly as possible. I suggest that the position of women, either married or single, in the labour forces of Canada, and particularly in these times of national stress, is so vital to the economy of the nation that discrimination of this sort is unthinkable.

I would ask that the minister give consideration to all these matters, some of which are current and of great importance, and others of which have been standing for many years. But in each and every one of them there is at this moment a certain element of urgency, and I bespeak his sincere application to their consideration.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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May 4, 1951