May 4, 1951

LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to refer briefly to a few of the points discussed by the hon. member for Hamilton West. First of all I would congratulate her upon her speech, and would thank her for the tribute she paid to my predecessor, Hon. Humphrey Mitchell, in which I join heartily. I join with her, too, in saying that many of the things for which he worked hard, and were instituted by him, are now bearing fruit and operating for the benefit of the people of Canada.

The national advisory council on manpower, which I announced in the house in a statement of some length, met in its first meeting shortly after the announcement was made. The object of creating such a body was to have the benefit of direct advice, alongside the indirect advice given in this chamber, from those who work from day to day as leaders in labour organizations, those who employ labour, the women of the country, the veterans and the farmers. The purpose was to give their representatives an opportunity to sit down together from time to time, on call, as may be required, in company with officials of departments such as the Department of Defence Production, the Department of National Defence, my own department and other departments which, while not so keenly interested as the three I have mentioned, still have an interest in the subject of manpower.

I would think particularly of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

The advisory council held a meeting and, as an exploratory first meeting, it was successful; certainly those who attended thought it so. Certain subjects were decided upon for

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study, and it was arranged that further meetings were to be on call. Following the question the hon. member for Nanaimo asked a few days ago, I learned from Mr. Norman Robertson and Mr. MacNamara that they have sent out notices for a meeting to be held on the 18th and 19th of this month, and longer as may be required.

I can certainly agree with the hon. member in the stress she places on the importance of industrial peace at this time, and the fortunate situation in which Canada has found herself since last September, at any rate, in the way that leaders of labour have been working with management toward industrial peace. So much has this condition obtained that since last September the average number of people on strike in Canada at any given time has been less than 400 workers.

The hon. member said she would not discuss in detail-and indeed she did not-the railway situation which developed last September. However, she did mention the expression "compulsory arbitration", and referred to the fact that that feature of the act which we passed in the short session last fall still remains. If I understood her correctly, that was the meaning of what she said. I believe the real answer is that today that act is as dead as a doornail.

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PC
LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

It is as dead as a doornail, because the things for which it was enacted have been accomplished; it is null and void. So that compulsory arbitration, even in so far as that act is concerned, does not exist at the present time.

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PC
LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

The hon. member's observations as to the definition of confidential employment, and her references to uniform labour laws, anti-discriminatory laws, and other suggestions she made so ably in connection with federal labour laws will be given careful consideration.

When it was said that our labour force numbers about 5,200,000 it will be remembered, I am sure, that that includes all the farmers and a great many of those people who are engaged in businesses of their own.

Many of the hon. member's views as to the extension of the advantages of unemployment insurance, in so far as it is possible to do so, are in accord with government policy, and constitute a goal toward which the commission itself is working. When its operations

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are being discussed in detail I would be prepared to give my hon. friend some information as to the progress that has been made, arising in some respects from the amendments to the act made a year ago.

I listened attentively to what the hon. member said as to her experience gained from active participation in municipal affairs and municipal government, all of which gave an indication of her close knowledge of that field of public service. I listened, too, to her reference to turning up two reports which only last fall shortly after coming to the department, and in the face of the oncoming federal-provincial convention, I too read with care. I had a notion they might be on the [DOT]agenda. However, as everyone knows, it seemed desirable at the time to confine the discussion of the conference, with the result that those two subjects were not on the agenda. The matter of the responsibility for unemployment was not discussed-not because there was any doubt as to its importance, but rather because it was desired to limit the discussions of the conference to the two subjects which had priority.

I agree that now, in a period approaching full employment, is the time to give full consideration to a subject of that kind. As I read some of the reports of those commissions, I must say that, looking at them in the light of present-day experience I wondered whether to some extent they were not based upon the experiences of the harder days between 1930 and 1940. I say this with full knowledge that I am probably entering in where angels fear to tread, and talking with people who have had much more experience in the matter than I have.

However, as we stand today, I find it difficult to see how there could be a fixed line of responsibility drawn in respect of the unemployed employables as between Canada, the provinces and municipalities. Supposing the great lakes development is carried out? I am thinking of something that was decided the other day and which will more particularly benefit the people of my province, the suggested co-operation between the federal and provincial authorities in forest conservation work. Federal money is to be supplied and there will be co-operation by the dominion with the provinces. I am wondering whether consideration should not be given to co-operation in connection with projects that are worth while without relation to the responsibility of the men who are to take part in the work on them.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Without wishing to interrupt the minister, but just while we are thinking on this subject, the very fact that

tMr. Gregg.] .

at present there is a line drawn by reason of the responsibility accepted by the provinces and the responsibility which they refuse to accept would indicate that it is possible to establish a line.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

I am not going to develop that any further except to say that it is not being overlooked. If the hon. member will send me particulars of the special cases she has referred to I shall be glad to have them looked into. With regard to married women, the regulations were amended last fall and I should like to make a full statement in connection with this when we are' dealing with the unemployment insurance commission. I can assure the hon. member that there was no intention of discriminating against women under the Unemployment Insurance Act. The advisory committee that was studying this matter felt that the regulations could be improved, but if we have made errors in attempting to improve them I assure the hon. member that we will continue our studies to avoid incurring any hardship.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

Mr. Chairman, first of all I should like to suggest to the minister with due deference that he is getting off to a bad start in getting his estimates through by answering each hon. member who may bring problems to his attention. We are dealing with the first item and every time the minister speaks he is bound to provoke other hon. members into making a speech. Having watched the previous minister of labour and other ministers work their estimates through the house I think the proper way to handle them-this would be in the minister's own interests-would be to let everybody talk and then sum it all up.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

May I say to the hon. member that it is not very often that I am talked to in this house by a lady.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

I am not going to attempt to analyse the minister's whole department because every single item in his estimates could involve a forty minute speech if it was analysed completely. I am going to confine my remarks to those things to which I think the Department of Labour should be giving priority at this time.

The Department of Labour is going to be the main mobilization centre both for defence production and for the armed services. According to radio and press reports the Minister of National Defence will shortly be before this house to tell us that the manpower requirements for military purposes have greatly increased and that there is also urgency for them. He cannot get that manpower from any other place in this country

except the industrial set-up, and that means a possible disruption of industry and a lot of headaches for the Department of Labour.

Regardless of the importance of the other departments of government, the Department of Labour is the most important as far as the mobilization of manpower for defence and industry is concerned. The minister has the greatest responsibility in that regard. Unless that responsibility is understood, unless those in charge are able to do the job and understand the job, the industrial set-up of this country will be badly disrupted and shortages will be created for defence purposes.

The first thing I should like to impress upon the minister is that when he announced the appointment of the 28 members of the manpower council and stated to this house that that council was to have the responsibility of looking after the industrial setup, of allocating and re-allocating manpower and advising the minister as to where it could be taken from, I disagreed with the government in the appointments. I did not think the personnel selected were in close enough touch with the industrial workers of this country to be able to advise the minister as to what was or was not essential.

I am not particularly interested in whom industry has appointed to represent them, in who was appointed to represent the women of this country, to represent the Legion and so on. That was the prerogative of the government. If they think the appointments were all right, then they accept that responsibility. But I am interested in the people who have been taken in from labour because in the final analysis that is where you are going to get your real advice.

Let me refer for a moment to the representatives of labour whom the government has selected. I am not saying anything about these men personally. They are the executive heads of different organizations and in so far as they know the problem they will do a good job. As I said when I discussed this matter previously, after six years of war and four years of uncertainty the working people of this country are not going to be pushed around by people in ivory towers in Ottawa. I meant that. I know how the working people feel. Percy Bengough, the president of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, was one appointment. He lives in Ottawa. Another appointment was Pat Conroy, secretary treasurer of the Canadian Congress of Labour, who also lives in Ottawa. Another appointment was Gerard Picard, president of the Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour, who I presume lives

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in Montreal although I am not sure. Another appointment was James B. Ward, assistant grand chief engineer and dominion legislative representative of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and secretary, dominion joint legislative committee of the railways transportation brotherhoods, also of Ottawa.

Men who live in Ottawa and do their work in Ottawa have little conception of what kind of disruption is going to take place in an organization in Windsor or on the west coast. I suggested to the minister that these men were all right in an advisory capacity, but at the time I criticized this particular body I did so on the ground that they were too far removed from the scene of action to be able to say definitely what was going to happen in industry when it was being reconverted for war purposes. They are too far removed from the scene of activity to be able to give you a definite opinion. At that time I suggested to the minister the setting up of industrial councils. When I referred to "industrial councils" I meant that representatives from the industry concerned should be members of such a council. For example, one of the first industries affected by the change-over to war is the auto workers industry. The industry has received orders for vehicles, tank engines, and all that kind of thing. There is a shift taking place now in that industry. Men are being displaced, and so far as the manpower council is concerned nothing has been done to find out exactly what is happening. Overnight 3,500 workers in the Ford plant at Windsor are affected. The shift is putting men on the street. Before that happened the matter should have been discussed with the representatives of the automobile workers union, a large organization. Representatives from Ford, Chrysler and General Motors should have been called in.

They should have been told exactly what percentage of their plants was going to be swung over to war purposes, and they should have been told the number of men affected. They were not, they are stiff in the dark, and that particular type of action is going to continue. In my opinion the auto workers industry is going to be badly disrupted and changed from its peacetime base. When the union representatives visited the government departments for the purpose of finding out what was going to be done with the men laid off they were told that the aircraft industry is going to be expanded. That is quite true. They were told that there will be work in the aircraft industry, but that means that a man living with his family

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in Windsor is going to have to leave Windsor and go to Toronto or Montreal to work. That will mean maintaining two homes because he is not going to be able to find housing in Toronto or Montreal to which he can move his family. It is going to cost him more to maintain his family and himself apart from them.

Another point is that wages in the aircraft industry are 25 to 30 cents an hour less than in the automobile industry, which is also a very serious problem. These men are highly organized. They have contracts, and they are not going to take kindly to such a move. You can have a disruption there of a type that you will not like unless the problem is settled. If these men are obliged to make a shift they have a right to know where they are going to live, and what is going to happen with respect to the differential in wages. They work under an agreement with the industry. They accept and I accept the necessity for the change, but if we are going to swing over 25 per cent of the plant production of this country to war purposes then organized workers who have contracts will be displaced. They are not unemployed; they are displaced because of the change to war production.

That is an angle that should be discussed with the representatives of the workers affected. In addition, if the manpower council is going to operate as it should, if it is going to seek manpower for military purposes, then it should determine the industries from which it is going to take them. That is not hard to find out because the government has decided to give war orders to certain plants which means they are going to change their assembly lines. Before any decision is made by the manpower council or by the Department of Labour, representatives of the workers involved should be called in, and their contracts should be examined. If you are going to move them you must have places for them to live, and the matter of the differential in wages should be taken care of.

I do not think the quiet manner in which the defence program has been going along will continue for much longer. I do not believe that the developing international situation will permit us to be too complacent much longer, and I believe the tempo of our defence program will have to be stepped up very quickly. As a safeguard against disruption in any plant that is being swung over to defence production, I strongly suggest to the minister that he call in the representatives of the men affected. Instead of the manpower council, what I wanted to see was industrial councils formed, something that

i have suggested for the last five or six years, in the basic industries of the country such as the automobile workers, coal, steel and the packing houses. These industries are very essential to the economy of the country. Industrial councils could be formed so that representatives could come here to discuss a particular industry and what its role was going to be in the defence program for which we are preparing. I am going to leave that with the minister because I think it is the most important thing that his department has to handle at the present time.

There are little odds and ends that I shall bring to his attention. The hon. member for Hamilton West spoke this afternoon about unemployment insurance and all those things. We agree with her and support her representations. There is no need to repeat them. There is another problem in the field of labour relations that I should like to bring to the minister's attention. In Canada today practically every industry has come to the conclusion that a man must work every day. Most industries have inserted in their contracts certain penalties for absenteeism, a thing that is pretty hard to define. I challenge anyone in this house or any industrialist in the country to define absenteeism for me. I have my own definitions. I can give a million reasons why a man might be off work in a particular industry, but the trend to working every day has been pretty highly developed.

This matter affects the Department of Justice. The point I am coming to is that after working for five days the average worker likes to go out on Saturday and take a drink of beer. Many of them commit small infractions of the law. A man may be driving a car, get into a bit of difficulty and wind up with a mandatory seven-day jail sentence. He also loses his licence to drive. For these slight infractions involving the loss of work for a few days-and it happens all over the country-he pays the penalty prescribed by law. That should finish the matter but it does not. When he goes back to his employment again he finds that his employer has also penalized him. He has taken his means of livelihood from him. He says: We do not want you in our employ any longer.

The man was fined or jailed, he paid the penalty prescribed by the laws of the country, and then his employer says: I am sentencing you further; you are not going to work any more. When a man is let out in that way by an employer the only thing left for him is to look for unemployment insurance. When he goes to look for unemployment insurance he ' finds that he is penalized again. They deprive

him of any payments for the first three weeks because the employer fired him, and in some cases he is not paid at all. I have taken up this matter with the Department of Labour. I know that the officials of that department with whom I deal are very flexible in their views. They will stretch the law as far as it will go, but there is a limit beyond which they cannot go. I want the Minister of Labour to inquire from the Department of Justice 'whether an employer, after a man has paid the penalty prescribed by law, can then further penalize him by depriving him of his employment. After a man has paid unemployment insurance since its inception and has never drawn any of it, is it justice to deprive him of it because of a slight infraction of the law? He may have been off work a short time, but should he be penalized in that way? I am not going to elaborate any more upon it, but there are cases of that kind. I have brought them to the attention of the labour department. I should like the Minister of Labour to make some inquiries of the Minister of Justice to ascertain whether an employer has the right, after a man has already served a sentence, to further penalize him. I was always led to believe by the legal minds in my part of the country that it was a statutory offence to deprive a man of his means of livelihood. That is exactly the oosition the employer is taking in the circumstances I have described.

In connection with this matter of unemployment insurance

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Mr, Goode:

I should like to ask the hon. member what the unions' point of view is in that case? I am interested in that.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

It was a union that brought it to my attention. The secretary of the union wrote to me giving me the names of several people who were affected in that way. He made representations which I passed on to the Department of Labour. The answer from the Department of Labour was far from satisfactory, and it is for that reason I am bringing it to the minister's attention. As a rule, such matters can be ironed out with the labour department.

With regard to unemployment insurance, I should like to mention the problem of the displaced person in the swing-over to war production. For example, the auto worker is fairly well paid. His wage rate is among the highest in industry. All of a sudden, he is told he is unemployed because they are swinging the assembly line over to vehicle production and it will take some time to retool. He will be off work a month, two months or three months. He finds himself

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without a pay envelope, so he goes to the unemployment insurance office. Now, that man was earning perhaps $90 a week, and that is not unusual in that industry. He finds himself cut down to $14 or $15 per week, and I do not think that man should be penalized in that way. The employer is not suffering any loss. If the government requisitions a plant for war purposes, clauses are written into the contract protecting the industrialist from loss. New equipment is provided, and special depreciation rates and all that sort of thing protect the industrialist. A man whose income is suddenly cut off because of the swing-over to war production should not lose that income. I believe the Unemployment Insurance Act should be revised to cover that particular case so that the man could be paid approximately what he was earning. I believe he is entitled to that. There is about $647 million in that unemployment insurance fund now. There will be a lot of unemployment of that type. The auto workers are affected now, as are the Massey-Harris people, and all the industries that are going to be swung over to war production will be affected. I do not think it is fair to protect the employer against losses and throw the employee out in the street, then ask him to eke out an existence on unemployment insurance until such time as he is placed in employment somewhere else. I want the minister to consider that matter, because I know the auto industry is beginning to be badly affected by it, and I believe it is going to be much worse before very long.

In my opinion the thing to do is to call in the heads of the auto unions. These are sensible men. and the matter could, be discussed with them. An understanding having been arrived at, they would be able to go back and properly advise the employees before a lot of resentment and disruption occurred.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I said I was not going to rehash a lot of things. In conclusion, I should like to say this for the benefit of the member for Hamilton West. She talked about men 45 years of age, but actually it is 40, not being required in industry any longer, and that is correct. She was also right when she said that the reason for that is that industries are providing pensions on. a contributory basis, and they did not want to take in men at that age because they would not contribute long enough to make up for what they might draw out; that is absolutely correct. In my opinion, her solution to the problem was not correct.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

I did not offer any solution.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

You made some suggestions. There is only one solution to that problem, Mr. Chairman-

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PC
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

No, unemployment insurance does not cover it. There should be established in this country a contributory retiring allowance handled by the annuities branch of the Department of Labour. I have said that a good many times in this house. In my opinion, the pensions from industry to industry across this country today are a terrific waste of money. Look at the duplication of administration they have. No two industries in this country can provide the same rate of pension. There are hundreds of thousands employed in small industries who will never receive any pension at all. Those industries have not got that kind of money. There will never be any solution to the problem until the federal authorities- in my opinion it has to be the federal authority-confer with the industrialists and show them where they could save a lot of money by contributing now to a central fund handled by the annuities department. This department has the best actuaries in the country with experience in working out plans of this type. It could be handled effectively by centralizing it in Ottawa. In my opinion, this plan would cost 50 per cent less than we are paying today for these other disjointed haphazard schemes that industry is trying to run. We have to work towards that.

The old age pension is fine. It is a patch on this leaky ship that has been sinking for a long time. It is the best we can do, but we are going forward now into a streamlined age. While we may carry on with it as it is, we should start now, not providing a small pension of $40 per month at 70 or 65, but allowing men who are employed in industry to contribute to a retiring allowance that is going to mean something. It should be approximately $100 or $150 a month, something towards which they could contribute in co-operation with the industrialists of this country. With the brains available in the annuities branch, with the money that has been thrown around in some of these other schemes, a real retiring allowance could be established which would cost the taxpayer of this country practically nothing except the administration of it by the federal government. I should like to stress again that it should be a federal matter, because if you get it back to the ten provinces then you have a lot of duplication in administration. Look at the family allowances branch. The cheques go out regularly every month from the federal

government and there are never any complaints about the administration. I believe that a retiring allowance on a contributory basis, directed from Ottawa, would take out of the field of struggle and discussion this old age pension, and all of these things would disappear, at least for the next generation. That is one contribution we should make to them.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

Mr. Chairman, like some of the others, and particularly the member who has just spoken,, I do not intend to go into this matter in too much detail at the moment. I think probably we can make better progress as the various items come up for discussion. But there are a few general expressions of opinion that I should like to voice on this occasion. For the length of time that the Minister of Labour has occupied that position, I think that generally speaking he has not done too bad a job. He has a big job on his hands. But one thing that has assisted the Minister of Labour more than anything else, I think, was the outbreak of the Korean war. Much as we hate to admit that some of our problems are solved by wars, nevertheless it becomes a fact, whether we admit it or not.

Hon. members will recall that, just before the outbreak of the Korean war, we had about 423,000 registered unemployed; and that is not counting the unemployed who were not registered. But the government itself was not much concerned about it at that time, because it looked to all of us as though that huge unemployment problem would be taken care of in the near future; and it was taken care of. A great many of those men who were then unemployed joined the armed services, and that solved the problem for the moment. But as soon as that war is over-and we all trust that it will be over as quickly as possible-we are going to return to our unemployment problems again. Now is the time when we must make every effort to improve our labour relations so that those problems will not be so serious when they come up again.

I want to speak for a moment or two, Mr. Chairman, about the manpower council that was set up this year. I said at the time I was speaking with regard to the matter that I thought in general it was a good thing. I think so yet. I think it has great possibilities. But like the horn, member for Cape Breton South, I have had complaints with regard to the allocation of workingmen.

Representatives of organized labour from Windsor, from Oshawa and from western Canada have visited us in our offices. One of the complaints which they are making is that there is not the proper co-ordination

which enables men to keep and maintain steady employment. They pointed out to us that there are, both in Windsor and in Oshawa, large numbers of men who are being laid off right now when we are supposed to be at the peak of employment.

They are laid off because the plants have been promised war contracts; and of course the production of commercial vehicles is cut down. But the plants have not yet started the production of military equipment. In fact, the drawings are still on the boards. As the hon. member for Cape Breton South said, it does not make any difference what plans are being inaugurated, or what plans are still on the drawing boards. If these men are not employed, they are facing an extremely difficult situation; and that situation becomes particularly difficult in view of the increasing prices. That situation points to a certain amount of lack of co-ordination with this manpower committee.

Then we have the same situation with regard to the mining industry of western Canada. This has been drawn to my attention in my own constituency, and it is a serious thing for us out in that part of the country. This year we are losing over half a million tons in coal production. That is something which is due largely to circumstances beyond the control of the Department of Labour, but not beyond the control of the government. We are still importing huge amounts of coal from the United States, thus doing away with our western market. Then we have the discovery and the use of oil and gas, which is causing the displacement of coal. But regardless of that fact, large numbers of people are becoming unemployed in western Canada owing to the curtailment of mining. I do not want to get into a discussion of the coal mines in this debate, but this situation has a material effect on the Department of Labour. I therefore think it would behoove the Department of Labour to use every means they have at their disposal to insist that the government initiate a complete and comprehensive plan for a national fuel policy so that this labour problem, particularly as it applies to miners in western Canada, will not increase but in fact will diminish.

I want to say a word about compulsory arbitration. I think there are few if any hon. members who agree with the principle of compulsory arbitration. A moment ago the minister pointed out that this idea is as dead as a doornail; I think that is what he said. I think he is right in that respect. I do not know what the government's attitude would be if a similar occasion arose. I suppose we would have to settle the matter when we

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came to it. But from the standpoint of principle, I am strongly against compulsory arbitration; and I could not express the view half so well as it was expressed in the

Labour Review a short time ago. I think I should put it on Hansard, particularly because it is the view of some labour leaders. The title of this article is "Compulsory Arbitration, a Totalitarian Concept" by the Hon. L. B. S hwellenbach, then Secretary of Labor cf the United States of America. He has this to say about this particular subject:

The principle of compulsory arbitration does violence to our whole Anglo-Saxon concept of law. Many people say that it is customary under our system when two people have a dispute to take that dispute into court and let the court decide which side is right and which is wrong. So far as contractual relations between parties is concerned, it has never been within the purview of the court's power to write contracts for people.

Once contracts have been written and agreed upon the courts will interpret and enforce them, but no court has attempted to write contracts. That is what those who advocate compulsory arbitration would have the board of arbitration or a court do for the parties.

May I interject to say that I think that would be exactly the case if we accepted the general principle of compulsory arbitration. The article continues:

It must also be realized that if an arbitrator writes a contract which, by increase in wages or by any ether device, increases the cost to the employer, it will then be necessary for the arbitrator or for some governmental agency to determine what price the employer may charge for the products which he manufactures and sells. Just as sure as night follows the day the second step mrt follow the first. The government cannot control the industrial-relations side of the problem without controlling all of the ether steps and the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the goods produced. Therefore, these who unwittingly believe that there is a simple answer through the medium of compulsory arbitration have not looked' further down the road which must be followed if such compulsory arbitration is to be effective.

I think almost everybody will agree that that would be the natural result if we were to extend this principle of compulsory arbitration; that there is just no end to government interference all the way down the line of production.

Let me turn to one other subject which has interested me. It was mentioned by the previous speaker. I refer to industrial pensions. I have never thought that an industrial pension was the solution of our working-class problems. I do not yet. The ones, and the only ones, who can benefit are those who are employed in industry and receive that pension; and it must of necessity increase the price of the goods produced.

I like the idea suggested by the hon. member for Cape Breton South. I just forget how he described it, national pensions for all, or something to that effect, retiring

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pensions. This is not something new, Mr. Chairman. Just refer to family allowances. We were the first ones in the house to mention them back in 1935. We called them by a different name, but that does not make any difference. We called it a national dividend, and everyone in the house without exception laughed at it and the Liberals laughed at it the loudest. Yet, they were the ones who came around and gave us family allowances. And mark you, lo and behold, when the Prime Minister introduced the bill-and I remember it so well-he used the exact terminology, the exact phrases that we had used in advocating a national dividend. To this day not one Liberal has spoken against the national dividend as it is applied to the family allowances.

Now we have the suggestion of a national pension, with which I am in accord. With regard to a national pension to industrial workers, I am not going to say now that it would be improper to give it. When the family allowances were given I did not say that it was improper to give them to the children. I think that was right. It was a start on the thing that we were advocating. National pensions are a step further in that same direction. I do not see how you are going to confine it just to those who are employed in organized labour, because there are many people in this country who deserve pensions and who are not employed by industry, and who have no possible chance of receiving an industrial pension. And yet, all these people contribute to an industrial pension.

I am a hundred per cent behind the hon. member for Cape Breton South when he advocates a national pension. I think the idea is perfectly sound. We are coming to the time when the country will be forced to do something like that, and it is much better for us to progress. We started out by giving family allowances. All right. Let us go another step further and give national pensions to those people of fifty years of age or over. As time goes on, it will be necessary to continue that, and I shall be most happy when everybody in this country receives a national pension, a national dividend, or whatever you wish to call it.

Some mention was made of unemployment insurance. I have a little experience of the way in which this insurance is applied, and certainly it is not beneficial in all cases. On this occasion I am not going to repeat what has already been said, except to say that in principle I think it is definitely wrong to extract unemployment insurance contributions from employees who have no

possible chance of benefiting under the legislation. Take people who are employed part time in agriculture-and I have case histories of them in my office. I have taken them up with the department in regard to income tax, and other things of that nature. They have to make contributions to the unemployment insurance fund without any possible hope of ever receiving any benefit therefrom. It seems to me that in principle it is definitely wrong and should be changed.

I do not want to prolong this opening discussion. I shall have something to say on the items as they come along, but I thought I should express a few comments on this occasion.

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LIB

Robert Cauchon

Liberal

Mr. Cauchon:

On April 17 I called the

attention of the house to industry's reluctance to engage employees who had passed the 45-year mark. The problem of the older workers is one facing most democracies of the world today not only in North America but also in many western European countries. Since that time added information has come to my attention and this new information is so interesting that I think it is my duty to make it known to hon. members now. It concerns the practical measures being considered or put into effect in other countries to cope with this problem, which is becoming more acute as the curve of the average age of workers gets steadily higher.

On page 1 of the report, dated April 11, 1951, issued by Mr. Chester W. Hepler, chief of the manpower division of the international labour office in Geneva, we find the following:

In the first place, many of these countries are faced with the problem of an aging population, which means that the active population includes an increasingly high proportion of workers in the older age groups (over 40 or 45).

When I brought this problem to the attention of the house I enumerated the arguments of some industries and, I believe, in large measure refuted them. In conclusion, as reported in Hansard, pages 2097 to 2103, inclusive, I asked that a committee of the house be set up to study the whole problem.

I am more fully convinced that the matter can be solved only by careful study and research, this research to be carried on by the government with the co-operation of labour and management.

In this respect, let us see what is being done in other countries, namely, Belgium, France, the German federal republic, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Of Belgium, the report has this to say:

The leading article in the "Revue du Travail" of October, 1950, discusses the problem arising out of the aging of the Belgian population. The theme of the conclusions is the need, on behalf of the national economy as well as on behalf of the

workers concerned, to change its increasing practice to reject older workers in favour of young workers.

France too is considering legislation for 1951 to deal with the practice of discrimination against its older workers. Again I quote:

Government Action in Respect of Employment of Older Workers

The following give, briefly, proposed legislation being presently considered by the labour and social security committee of the national assembly, 1951 session:

1. Proposed law (No. 11,995) that industries employing more than five wage earners should, in engaging such workers, reserve 25 per cent of such engagements for persons over 50 years of age.

2. Proposed law (No. 11,951) asking private undertakings to draw up a list of occupations which could be satisfactorily fulfilled by women over 50 years of age, and1 a second list of the occupations they could fulfil after an accelerated apprenticeship course.

3. Proposed law (No. 11,996) that single women of more than 50 years registered in the departmental employment offices should have the right to unemployment benefits.

The committee in its remarks accompanying these proposed laws refers to the difficulty of these workers in finding employment on account of their age and of other associated reasons. It also points out that age statistics of available workers, labour force, indicate that 25 per cent of employment must come from workers between 50 and 65 years.

In the section dealing with the German federal republic under government action, we find:

The Minister of Labour, Saar State, in a statement in January, 1951 offered to pay to enterprises taking on workers over forty-five years, a subsidy out of the unemployment insurance funds to meet the salaries of these workers. This subsidy would be paid during a period of three months to enable the older worker to refresh the vocational skill he lost during a long period of unemployment.

Again, referring to The Netherlands, we find:

The report of the national labour office for the last quarter of 1949 states that, with a view to finding a remedy for unemployment among older workers, the labour office was collaborating with the labour foundation in a campaign to induce employers to employ greater numbers of these workers.

From Switzerland comes the following:

The quarterly bulletin on employment matters, Possibility de Travail, edited by the special official delegate to the Swiss federal government, stated in July, 1950, that while there had been, recently, little difficulty in placing qualified workers in Switzerland, all parts of the country reported that it was becoming more and more difficult to find employment for unskilled or insufficiently trained workers or for middle-aged workers. The writer stated that this was again evidence of the importance of systematic and well planned vocational training.

The same writer in January, 1951, stated in an article entitled "Too Old at 40" (referring to employees in commerce) that work seekers between 40 and 45 years in search of employment are finding it very difficult to get employment. Employers prefer young workers.

Replies to a questionnaire put by the Alliance de Societes Feminines Suisse to several employment placement bureaux, January, 1951, showed that the

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number of women workers over 40 years unable to get employment had increased markedly during 1950, and that placing them was proving difficult, and very difficult in the case of unskilled women workers.

The employment bureaux stated that they made special efforts to find employment for these older workers. Officials'went personally to employers on their behalf.

The United Kingdom too has concerned itself with this practice of rejecting older workers. The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Labour during the adjournment debate in the House of Commons July 19, 1950, stated:

The seriousness of employment among men aged 51-55 and 56 and over can be seen from the fact that the figures of 12 per cent and 23 per cent, compared with 7 per cent and 11 per cent of the working population. It is hardly surprising then, that the older men remain unemployed for longer periods than the younger men.

In the age group under 40, at December, 1949, 25 per cent had been unemployed for periods between eight weeks and one year, and this proportion rose to 33 per cent for the age group 41-50, 36 per cent for the age group 51-55 and 37 per cent for men over 55. For the same age groups, those unemployed for more than one year represented 6 per cent, 16 per cent, 20 per cent, and 28 per cent respectively.

Government Action

The following information relates to action since the war years and in respect of the employment of older workers generally rather than action in respect of the special problem of the continued employment of workers of retiring age. The ministry of labour report for 1947 stated that the ministry took every occasion offered to appeal to employers not to impose unduly low age limits when engaging staff. The ministry sought the assistance of the association of British chambers of commerce and pointed out that age distribution of the working population was changing and that employers must realize that their staffs will have to include a higher proportion of older men. The association have given wide publicity to this problem.

The ministry of labour report for 1948 referred to consideration of the problem being given by local employment committees. Able-bodied unemployed persons as well as the disabled in United Kingdom, are admitted to courses of industrial rehabilitation under the Training and Employment Act of 1948. The parliamentary secretary in his statement to parliament, July, 1950, quoted statistics to demonstrate the opportunities made by the government to allow older men and women to enter the civil service.

The recognition of this problem by the government along the lines indicated in the above references, has on several occasions been re-stated in the House of Commons during its recent session in 1951. The minister has placed the matter before the national joint advisory council. A social survey to ascertain the views of employers about the employment of elderly workers and the attitude of the elderly workers was undertaken, at the request of the department, by the central office of information last year. The survey is completed and the report on it is being drawn up at present.

Certainly the Minister of Labour will agree that he is the logical one to take the lead in seeking a remedy for this social problem. In other countries it has been the department of labour which has undertaken to find a

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solution. Since Canada has led the way in many social services I should like to see our country assume leadership in this particular field.

The Minister of Labour has at his disposal experts in all matters pertaining to labour. Of course I do not know the superintendents of the employment offices in the other provinces but I do know Mr. Marcel Guay of Montreal, a man in whom I have the utmost confidence and who would, I am sure, be an asset to such a committee. It can be expected that the other provinces are similarly fortunate in their superintendents. The employment offices of this country gave conclusive evidence of their competency during the last war by their direction and handling of the manpower resources of this country to meet the war's tremendous demands for labour. I again ask the Minister of Labour to consider the setting up of a special committee for the following purposes:

1. To approach every superintendent of each employment office in all the provinces of Canada and request him to appear before the committee to submit briefs in connection with the situation in his respective province.

2. To send to each manager of every employment office in Canada an invitation to submit in writing his opinion of this matter of employment of older workers. At a relatively small cost recommendations would thus be received from the men in closest contact with those in this age group who are seeking employment. The committee would then be in position to call before it the managers who seem best able to give information and constructive advice upon the subject.

3. To call upon labour also to submit through its union leaders, or other representatives chosen by the unions, labour's point of view and counsel.

4. To request a representation from industry whose recommendations would receive careful consideration.

5. To solicit the aid of those from our universities who are known specialists in the field of social and industrial relations, or of any other recognized experts in the causes of unemployment, especially experts in the rehabilitation of the unemployed.

Now is the opportune time for the Department of Labour to take action because it appears that industry is more than ever willing to co-operate. Many industrial leaders agree that modern management is not the management of yesterday. Among these is

George K. Foster, whom I quoted in my speech during the budget debate and who states:

Modern management is not just cold industrial efficiency. Modern managers are equally concerned with industry's human relations, with the dignity of man and with the harmonious co-ordination of men and machines.

In addition I am delighted to quote again the encouraging remarks of Mr. F. W. Winspear, president of the Canadian Chambers of Commerce, who surely is in a position to know and reflect labour's attitude. He said:

As we move further into this period of deepening crisis, I believe that Canadian business is ready and alert to assume its leadership which the country has the right to expect of it.

And again:

I believe attention should be directed toward the emergence of a fine new national spirit, the sense of enlightened leadership on the part of the businessmen of Canada.

In view of such statements the committee could feel free to call on these and other industrial leaders to advise and assist it in its work. Although in the past a committee has been appointed representing labour, industry and government, never has a committee of the house been set up to consider this and related problems. If such a committee were set up the government would then be in position to advise the house as to what steps could be taken to alleviate the high incidence of unemployment among older workers. Perhaps the minister would be kind enough to give an expression of his views on the subject.

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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Paarkes:

Mr. Chairman, I should like fo address a few remarks on the question of the manpower advisory committee. As you will recall, that committee was set up by order in council dated February 1. The Minister of Labour outlined the scope of the work of the committee in a statement to the House of Commons on February 5. He stated at that time, as reported on page 71 of Hansard:

The duty of the council will be to consider various aspects of manpower questions; to advise on plans under review, and to suggest plans which should be developed so as to make for the most effective utilization in the national interest of the present and potential man and woman working force of Canada.

The intention was to have the working personnel distributed among the armed forces, defence production and civilian activities in the most effective manner possible. By coincidence or by design, I know not which, the Minister of National Defence outlined on the same day the defence requirements which were being instituted in order

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to meet the government's program made necessary by the international situation as it then was. I will not elaborate on those various requirements, but in summing up the Minister of National Defence said, as reported on page 97 of Hansard of February 5:

This whole program involves an increase in the number of service and civilian personnel employed full time on defence from the present figure of about 90,000 to a total of about 148,000.

That is the program, a large one for a country of 14 million people still involved in developing its natural resources and also facing the task of maintaining essential services over an area of 31 million square miles.

That gives some idea of the problems which face this committee. I have a feeling that perhaps the appointment of this committee was prompted by recommendations which were made at the annual convention of the Canadian Legion held in Winnipeg in the previous fall and contained in a brief submitted to the government under the title of "Operation Preparedness." They had placed as the first requisite the need of a review of the manpower situation in the country. In fact they said that nothing could be done to organize effectively manpower in this country until a full scale review of our manpower resources had been made.

I am quite certain that the returned men of this country were delighted to know that the advisory committee which was to make this review was to act under a minister who had only recently given up the portfolio of veterans affairs. The Canadian Legion stressed also that this review would require time in order to obtain information and to interpret the results which would be arrived at. They emphasized that owing to the seriousness of the situation, and because everything else hinged upon this review being made, no time should be lost in making a start to carry out this work. Since last fall, since the time that the statement was made in the house in February, the manpower situation in this country has deteriorated. It has become more critical. We have learned through the papers in the last twenty-four hours, and from the announcement made by the Prime Minister this afternoon in answer to a question of mine, that the Minister of National Defence will be making an important statement this evening regarding the manpower situation and the further needs of national defence. The headlines all across the country of last night and this morning were that there was an appeal going out for thousands of recruits to be called up to our forces. Unless these recruits are going to be drawn in the same old haphazard way, it is essential that a review should be made of our manpower resources.

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One is amazed that this committee, which was set up on the 5th of February with a great flourish of trumpets, should have only held one meeting in the past three months. I am still further amazed that the Minister of Labour should have announced this afternoon, with a certain appearance of satisfaction, that the next meeting would be called two weeks hence. I have much sympathy with the Minister of National Defence who has been earnestly pleading for recruits, and who apparently has been untiring in his efforts to try to raise the forces which he considers necessary. I wonder whether he has struck the same responsive note amongst some of his colleagues, because the surprising procrastination on the part of the Minister of Labour in summoning the advisory committee certainly would not indicate that there is a firm determination in some other departments to get on with the job of raising men, to assess the real problem and assign individuals to their various occupations. Dangerous delays have already occurred, and if the appeal is going to meet a response throughout the country I am afraid that, as I said a moment ago, it will be a rather haphazard response.

Other speakers have mentioned that the manpower committee appears to be rather overloaded with a majority of high government officials. Apart from the chairman there are at least as many of them as there are from the various other groups in this country. They are centralized in Ottawa and, as the hon. member for Cape Breton South pointed out, they may not be in close touch with labour across the country. If these other individuals are only called once every quarter to give advice, the only result will be that they will feel that they are very much of a blind to the government, that no real responsibility is being placed on them, and they themselves will lose heart in the allimportant task that they have been assigned.

I appeal to the minister to start immediately to plan for the orderly employment of workers so that there may be the greatest efficiency and the least disruption of industry. I believe that the first step to be taken is a review of the manpower resources of the country. We are told that the advisory committee examined that problem at their first meeting. They may have been examining it in the various parts of the land in which they live, or the examination may have been left entirely to the government officials here; but I suggest that, in view of the seriousness of the situation as it exists today, there is no time to be lost. We are told that industry is scouring the country for trained workers at the present time. I do not know

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how much the Department of Labour is doing to train tradesmen. There are a few dominion-provincial schools scattered across the country for the training of men in the various trades.

As a very definite extension of the defence preparations now being undertaken I would urge that the dominion-provincial vocational training schools be expanded, and that in some cases excellent facilities in existence in these schools be made available to the armed forces. In the armed forces there is a very high percentage of tradesmen now, and I think that there is a means of encouraging young men to learn a trade which can be of value both to themselves and to their country. I urge the minister to throw off this rather complacent, happy-go-lucky, business-as-usual attitude, and to have the advisory committee sit at frequent intervals. After he has heard the remarks to be made by the Minister of National Defence tonight I hope he will give instructions to convene the advisory committee sooner than two weeks hence.

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?

Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Mr. Chairman, I want to say a few words in the debate that has developed on the administrative item in the Minister of Labour's estimates. First of all I wish to congratulate him on assuming this very important portfolio. I am sure that he will give equal satisfaction in discharging his duties in this department as in the department he previously headed, and where in my opinion he discharged his duties with considerable distinction. I wish to congratulate him also because in the main since he has taken his new office industrial relations in Canada have been fairly good. He came in at a bad time when the railway dispute was brought forcibly to the attention of parliament and the government. Having got that out of the way, I do not think he has been particularly hard pressed since. I would urge him not to think that these good times are going to last forever.

The conditions that we have had during the war years, and since then, have been such that it was fairly easy to maintain good labour relations. We have been passing through a time of high employment and rising prices; when labour made demands, these demands could, generally, be met. Employers have been able to throw any additional cost onto the community in increased prices. As I said, that may not last forever, and I would hope that it would not last forever if the circumstances that have caused it, that is war, the aftermath of war and then the preparation for another war, are the best that we can do in providing full employment. fMr. Pearkes.]

Over the years governments in Canada, regardless of their political stripe, have been reluctant to put legislation on the statute books to protect labour. Very little, if anything was done to protect labour during the depression years of the 1930's when labour was in a terrible plight. There was a surplus of labour in the market and the employer was in what we might call today a buyer's market. Very little help was given to labour by any government, either Conservative or Liberal, during those years. During the war years when there was a huge demand for labour and there was full employment labour's position improved. War's needs made full employment a necessity and labour could make its power felt by withholding its labour. Then, governments both federal and provincial concluded that labour legislation was necessary.

Compared with the legislation in other countries, the labour legislation we have in Canada today is not too bad. I am not saying that it is good enough or that it is perfect, but in comparison with labour legislation in many parts of the world it is not too bad. I can say that because I had the opportunity last year of attending the international labour conference at Geneva where questions concerning labour legislation were our main agenda. In the matter of conciliation and arbitration legislation, Canada is not too badly off. I made a statement to that effect on my return, and I want to make it again now.

I believe it was the member for Bow River who referred to compulsory arbitration. He was strongly opposed to it. I believe that labour in this country is strongly opposed to compulsory arbitration, but I do not believe we can rule it out altogether unless labour and industry can find a better way of conducting their business.

Although I imagine everyone in this house is opposed to compulsory arbitration, we found when we met here in special session last August that compulsory arbitration legislation was put on the statute books. The disputes between the railways and their employees was referred to an arbitrator, and from his findings there was no appeal. Now, that is compulsory arbitration, but compulsory conciliation is an altogether different matter. It is accepted by both labour and industry in this country, and I think it helps to make for more peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, and for better relations between employers and labour.

I see, Mr. Chairman, that it is about six o'clock, so I shall continue after the recess.

At six o'clock the Speaker resumed the chair and the house took recess.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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May 4, 1951