April 24, 1953

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Joseph Henry Harris

Mr. Harris:

For the final three months.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I do not want to get into a question-and-answer type of discussion at this stage, although I do want to have these particular difficulties cleared up. I would also appreciate a statement when the minister replies as to the effect which they anticipate in the department will be felt with respect to immigration from European countries by the difficulty he mentioned which is going to stand in the way of immigration from the United Kingdom. I refer to the shortage of shipping. The minister pointed out that on account of the numbers going over to the coronation and booking return passages the availability of accommodation for immigrants was expected to be considerably curtailed. Is that expected to stand in the way of or to create difficulties with respect to immigration from continental Europe, or is it to be an obstacle only in the way of immigration from the United Kingdom?

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

With these remarks and questions, Mr. Chairman, I think I can leave the subject for the time being, just emphasizing, however, before I sit down, what I believe to be generally agreed as a principle to be taken by our immigration policy, and that is that we want to develop Canada, not to change it. We believe that there are enormous opportunities for development, enormous opportunities awaiting the people who will come here. We do believe that the immigration policy should be carefully worked out so as to preserve the ethnic balance which we now have, and which itself will ensure that those coming here have the chance of being absorbed rapidly and easily into our Canadian way of life.

Subject only to that principle, and to the limitations that they must not be brought here in numbers beyond our capacity to absorb, in the physical as well as the cultural sense, this would be I believe a sound policy on immigration today. What the minister said the government intended to do, but which we do not see any signs of their doing, was to work out a program of immigration to stimulate Canadian growth and development rather than merely allowing to exist such immigration as will barely keep pace with the actual physical demands being made by the shortage of population in the country today.

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SC

Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit

Mr. Shaw:

Mr. Chairman, we too listened with considerable interest to the statement made by the minister last night. We must confess that we have to agree with the hon. member for Kamloops when he indicated that probably the statement was too vague and too indefinite. It was a broad statement, which was intended as a general statement, but we do feel that possibly the minister could have been more specific with respect to certain aspects of immigration also, and more specific with respect to plans for the future.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Low:

Especially during the seventh

and possibly the final session of this parliament.

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SC

Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit

Mr. Shaw:

As my hon. friend says,

especially during the seventh and possibly the final session of this parliament. We realize, however, that various statements have been made by the minister or by his departmental officials from time to time. We also realize that a number of publications have been printed to which we have had access, which have given us certain facts. We realize also that during the consideration of these estimates we shall have the opportunity of asking whatever searching questions we may desire

to ask, and we trust that all the information which we require will be forthcoming.

My colleagues and I have at all times supported a vigorous immigration policy; while hand in hand indicating that we would support a vigorous immigration policy we have also emphasized the fact that it should be a carefully thought out and well planned immigration policy. We realize fully the vastness of this great nation; the fact that it is underpopulated. We realize that its future strength and development will depend in no small measure upon the number of its people and possibly even more particularly upon the character of its people. We realize fully that through our immigration policy we can contribute immeasurably toward the welfare of thousands, tens of thousands and scores of thousands of persons who today find themselves domiciled in countries other than our own, people whose lives have been dislocated as a consequence of developments over which they have had no control.

We realize also that problems have definitely been created in various nations by circumstances over which they have no control, and while our assistance to these nations may take the form of material aid, we realize also that we can be of assistance to them in absorbing certain of their population which might be described as being under the circumstances surplus to their requirements.

We have never advocated nor supported the open-door policy as far as immigration is concerned, Mr. Chairman. But one of the things I feared most immediately after the cessation of hostilities was that in our great sympathy for unfortunate people we would throw our doors wide open and allow people to come in from everywhere, regardless of their backgrounds, regardless of the conditions of health and so forth. But I believe that we have kept our heads during that period, and while we have brought in a lot of people, at the same time I realize that we have maintained certain principles which I think are essential to the welfare of our nation.

I have said on more than one occasion that I desire to see the people who are coming to Canada under our immigration regulations of such a type as to offer some reasonable assurance that they can be fitted into our way of life. We feel that we must be absolutely certain that they have an appreciation of the democratic concept of human organizations. I have reason to believe that a good deal of care has been exercised by our teams of officers on the continent to try to convince themselves that these persons

do appreciate the democratic way of life and are prepared to fit into it, accept it and support it when they come to this country.

I commend the departmental officials for their attempts to see to it that those who come to our country enjoy a reasonably good standard of health.

However, I am going to be just a bit critical in this respect. In our desire to secure those who are of A-l health, as we say, probably we have been a bit unfair to some. In the field of communicable diseases we often have to be severe, as we say, although I have reason to believe that in instances, for example, where scar tissue resulting from an attack of pleurisy shows up in an X-ray, maybe as a precautionary measure we have not permitted those persons to come in. What can be done I am not certain, but it does occur to me on the basis of the cases which have come to my attention that we have been a bit unfair to certain persons; we have been unfair to persons wl^o may have been suffering from war wounds and from the scars of war.

I suggest that possibly there should be a re-examination of this aspect. I do now want to be misunderstood. I think we must clamp down tightly, as we have done, on communicable diseases, but I think some of these cases should be re-examined.

I realize fully that immigration is a federal responsibility, at least inasmuch as it applies to non-British persons. I have always felt that there should be a continuing measure of consultation between the federal immigration department and the provinces. Let us not forget that once these immigrants enter Canada the question of where they settle is not a matter over which the province has jurisdiction. We find in many instances that they will gather in large numbers within a province or even within a small section of a province. As far as schools, hospitals and so on are concerned, at least a temporary burden is created. Possibly we could reexamine that aspect and perhaps something could be done by way of financial assistance to help solve that problem.

In any event the immigration department should not hesitate to consult with and ask for general co-operation from the provinces. I think the provinces are quite reasonable in this respect and I believe this procedure would be for the welfare of our prospective immigrants.

I now want to say a word and in doing so I am speaking personally. When a person contemplates coming to this country I think it should be made clear to him and he should definitely understand that along

24, 1953 4341

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration with the great privileges we are prepared to extend to him there are responsibilities which he must assume. I cannot understand why there should be so many persons who have been here twenty, thirty or forty years without having acquired citizenship. As I say, I am speaking personally when I say this because I have not consulted with members of my group. I do think that it should be known to these people that they will be expected to take steps to acquire citizenship in the country. Perhaps I might be a little too severe in that respect if I were the one who was helping to determine policy, but it is just a suggestion I pass on to the minister.

I think if that fact were emphasized we would have more of these people acquiring citizenship after they had been here for the prescribed period of time.

There are one or two other matters I should like to refer to. One is the question of immigrants who are sponsored by farmers.

I believe they agree to spend a year on the farm of the sponsor. I have had quite a few complaints from farmers that these immigrants have not lived up to their agreement, whether it is in the form of a written contract or simply verbal. I think further consideration should be given to this matter. I have had quite a bit of correspondence which indicates that some rather unhappy situations have developed. I realize that there must be some method of ascertaining whether the conditions on the farm are such that the immigrant should be expected to remain there and carry out the undertaking they had given.

I think the time has come when consideration should be given to broadening our immigration policy with respect to those who are entitled to sponsor immigrants. Today it is held down to those who are close relatives. I heard of many cases where in my estimation the sponsor possessed all the characteristics which I would like to see in a sponsor and there was no reason to believe that the prospective immigrant would not have made a good Canadian citizen. But because of the restrictions in the act the officials had to refuse the application. I think the time has come when a further examination should be made of this aspect of the whole question because I believe we are doing an injustice to a great many people by carrying out that policy.

I do not want to be too critical because I must confess I do not know all the problems, but it seems to me that in the case of immigrants from the British Isles, and I say this after having come in contact with many cases, too much time is allowed to elapse in

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration processing the application. I appreciate that there is a problem of transportation involved, but I am not dealing with that at the moment.

I recall the case of two sisters who were sponsored by their uncle. Their applications were submitted in the early fall but were not finalized until away on in the spring. They had to make two cancellations of their passages and as a matter of fact reached the point where they would have to go back to be re-examined medically because of the time that had elapsed from the first medical examination.

Everyone realizes that the men in charge of these matters have been making conscientious efforts to do a good job. I think by and large they have done a mighty good job. But I do feel that too much time is taken up in processing these applications.

There are in the British Isles many persons of limited means who are desirous of coming to Canada and I think we should go beyond this question of assisted passages. Many of these prospective immigrants are told of the great nation called Canada and the wonderful opportunities that will accrue to them if they come over. They are told, "You come over here and, if you are a farmer, contract to work on a farm; you Will acquire knowledge as to Canadian farming methods and then you will be able to farm for yourself."

The hon. member for Cape Breton South reminded us that the idea of grabbing an axe and going out and carving a farm out of the bush and then constructing a home is just something that does not happen today. To set yourself up on a farm, even in the most moderate fashion, is a pretty expensive proposition. Some of these immigrants have come to me and said that they were generally happy with this great country, that they recognized it as a wonderful country, but they seemed to think that possibly they had been misled a little. They complained that they found that they could not set themselves up.

I think the hon. member for Cape Breton South had a point when he said that the question of the availability of housing and all these things should become part of our immigration policy. We are doing these people no kindness if we take them out of one situation not to their liking and drop them into another situation which is still not to their liking. All these things should be considered as part of one great problem.

I do not think I agree with what the hon. member for Cape Breton South said with regard to capitalism. In fact I am afraid that

I disagree. When the hon. member was discussing unemployment and so on I was reminded of something I had read only a few days ago which came out of Czechoslovakia. In giving the people reasons for not giving them a 40-hour week the government indicated that the 40-hour week applied only to capitalist countries because by working only 40 hours the worker would have plenty of time left to undermine capitalism. They were told that once they had undermined capitalism then the 40-hour week would make no sense; they could then work 24 hours a day for the good of the country. I do not know just why that came into my mind at that time, but perhaps it was as a consequence of the hon. member's reference to capitalism.

I have no desire to detain the committee. We have not too much to complain about as far as our immigration policy is concerned. We think it could be improved in some respects. I suppose these things should be done with caution, but they may have been too cautious in certain respects. Possibly during the consideration of the individual items we will be able to secure further information and give expression to our views in that regard.

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LIB

Daniel Aloysius Riley

Liberal

Mr. Riley:

Mr. Chairman, first of all I should like to congratulate the minister and the officials of his department on the sane and realistic manner in which they have been carrying out government policy on immigration.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

What is it? Do you know?

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LIB

Daniel Aloysius Riley

Liberal

Mr. Riley:

I see that the hon. member for Kamloops wants to make another speech. He may continue after I have finished.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I want to listen to yours.

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LIB

Daniel Aloysius Riley

Liberal

Mr. Riley:

I am sure you will enjoy it and you may learn something.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I am always willing.

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LIB

Daniel Aloysius Riley

Liberal

Mr. Riley:

I should like to point out to the minister, however, one or two small problems which have caused some concern in my mind. I came across an incident recently with respect to one of these new probationary Canadians who had come into the country as a domestic and was in the home of a friend of mine where there were a number of children. These new Canadians, particularly the younger ones, have in many instances been indoctrinated in a way of life which is different from and at variance with our own, and although they are anxious to come to this country and fit themselves into our way of life nevertheless there remain in them certain

vestiges of thinking which are not strictly in accordance with the Canadian way of thinking.

In this particular case the young lady employed as a domestic in the home from time to time made comparisons between the head of the state from which she came and our own sovereign. That may be understandable because of the respect that had been built up in her mind for the head of the state from which she came. But what made this appear serious to me was that, having been here only a few months, she was anticipating becoming a teacher in one of our schools as soon as she had a better grasp of our language. This may not be a problem for the minister or his department, but I do think, where there is a possibility of some of these new or probationary Canadians going into the school teaching profession in our country before they have attained a firm grasp of our concept of democracy, that the need for great caution should be emphasized to the school boards, municipalities and provinces which might be acting as hiring agencies.

Another problem is indicated by the table put on the record last evening by the minister showing the destination of new Canadians coming into the country. I note that out of 164,498 immigrants to the country last year only 790 were destined to the province of New Brunswick. I suggest to the minister that through the officials of his department he should try to encourage a more even distribution of new Canadians. We in the province of New Brunswick are not so concerned with the bringing in of labourers as we are with the bringing in of people who will work our land and fit into the different sections of the population where their services can be used without disrupting the general economy of the province. I think this is something on which some effort should be concentrated because we need population of the proper type in the province of New Brunswick. I think that the officials of the minister's department could, without too much effort, encourage some of these immigrants to settle in our part of the country.

When they come to Canada they have the preconceived idea that the only place in which they can make a living for themselves is west of the southeastern boundary of the province of Quebec. That is not correct. I think it could be pointed out to immigrants that those who have settled in the maritime provinces have fitted very well into our general social and economic structure and that with very few exceptions they are making for themselves a very good life in this new land.

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

I should also like to point out to the minister that we have in the port city of Saint John a new immigration station which has been described and accepted generally not only in this country but all over the continent-and perhaps we can extend that comparison to many of the commonwealth countries which are encouraging immigration at the present time-as second to none on the continent. It is not the largest of course but it is geared to accommodate a large number of immigrants. These immigration facilities are not being put to the best use. All summer they are left virtually unstaffed with probably no more than a dozen or so new Canadians filtering through from other countries. I think that is a shame.

I do not hold the Department of Citizenship and Immigration entirely responsible, but I would point out to the minister that perhaps he or the officials of his department could encourage the shipping companies to bring immigrants into the port of Saint John. I realize that it is generally considered as a winter port. That belief exists but Saint John, like Halifax, is an all year round port and one which should be used as much as possible in bringing new Canadians into the country because it would not only provide extra commerce for the community but would also give immigrants the best of impressions of the new land in which they were arriving.

In connection with the immigration station we have a very competent and courteous customs service. I have often heard most sincere words of praise directed to the customs service in the city of Saint John. The customs facilities that have been established in the new immigration station are such as to provide the most courteous and competent system of handling the baggage not only of immigrants but of all travellers. The same applies to the immigration authorities there. The Red Cross people in the community have become so interested in the new facilities that they have provided a very fine nursery for the little children who are brought in by their parents to become future citizens of the country.

A great deal of voluntary effort on the part of the citizens of Saint John and Lancaster is directed toward making this first impression of new Canadians a warm and a lasting one. In addition there are a number of other organizations such as the Catholic Women's League and different church organizations which are directing a great deal of voluntary effort along these lines and they want to do more. They are very intent upon providing all the comforts which can be made available as well as the warmest welcome which can possibly be conceived for these new citizens.

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

We have such fine facilities at Saint John that I would even recommend them to stowaways-because the detention quarters are very comfortable and well though firmly supervised. I point out to the house, as I have in the past to the officials of the department, that in Saint John we have the best immigration facilities in the country but they are not being used to good advantage. The Canadian Pacific Railway directs a great number of immigrants through our port during the wintertime but I think that other shipping lines should also take an interest in bringing immigrants to that port. I do not say that we should get all of the immigrants there but as large a number as possible should be directed to that port which has the most modern and best equipped facilities.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that when a government brings people to its country, it should do everything it can to see that they have some place to live when they arrive. I believe it is pretty obvious that this government is doing just the reverse.

I would like to cite the actual dominion bureau of statistics figures for last year, showing how the situation deteriorated during that twelve months alone. Last year we built 73,000 new houses, but during the year the net new families added to our population were 93,000, so net new families exceeded houses built by 20,000.

The Curtis report, the report of a government-sponsored survey, made a number of years ago, estimated that during every year we have 13,500 houses which need to be replaced because of obsolescence. It is therefore obvious that during 1952 alone we built 33,500 fewer houses than were needed to keep pace with the net new families added, and the houses which should have been replaced owing to obsolescence. Now, Mr. Chairman, that situation has been going on for at least the past 18 years while this government has been in office. Today, by actual statistics, we are short half a million houses in this country.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Order. I hope that the hon. member intends to relate his remarks on housing to the subject of immigration. Otherwise, I cannot allow him to proceed.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

Mr. Chairman, I intend to do so. As the hon. member for Cape Breton South has said, housing and immigration are today very much allied subjects. I am dealing with the matter briefly, and I am not making a housing speech. I am showing what this government has to do in the way of producing houses in order to consider that it is

properly looking after the people who come to this country.

I believe that if the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration had been really on the job, he would have been continually pressing his colleague, the Minister of Resources and Development, to get more houses built for the people who are being brought to the country. The fact is just the reverse. In the three years during which the minister has held his portfolio, the number of houses that were built each year has decreased steadily, and last year we built 20 per cent fewer houses than we built in the first year that he held office.

Immigrants are finding it increasingly difficult to secure places to live. It is harder to find a place to live this year than it was three years ago. We are bringing more and more people to the country but we are building fewer and fewer houses, and I ask, Mr. Chairman, whether that make sense. I think the obvious answer is that it does not.

The increasing competition for the limited number of houses we have in this country is making it exceedingly difficult for the citizens who have lived here for many years, let alone those who are new arrivals. The increasing demand for the decreasing supply of housing is causing people who have lived here for many years, as well as those who are arriving in this country every day, to pay exorbitant rents, and many people simply cannot find a place in which to live.

I see the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration shaking his head.

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Joseph Henry Harris

Mr. Harris:

I was just shaking my head over your words "people who have lived here for many years". If you would relate your remarks to immigrants you would be in order.

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

I am talking of people whom this government has brought in as immigrants in the past few years. I think that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should be interested in people whom this country brought in as immigrants five years or ten years ago, and those are the people I am talking about. Those people are finding it increasingly difficult to secure accommodation.

As I said to the Minister of Resources and Development the other day, I can take the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to places in Toronto where people with four or five children are living in one room and paying as much as $60 a month rent-and they are scared to death that they will be asked to move because of the children. If the minister and this government consider those to be the kind of conditions under which good citizens can be produced, then I am afraid I must very strongly disagree with them.

I outlined in the house three days ago, as reported at page 4172 of Hansard, what other countries are doing to build houses not only for people who come to their shores but for people who have lived there all their lives. If the government would follow the pattern set by other countries-and it is a very simple pattern-then we could double the house construction which is being carried on at the present time. That would make it possible for the people of this country, and for people whom this government brought to this country a few years ago, to find places to live at a reasonable rent.

I would like now to deal with another matter, Mr. Chairman, which is very closely related to immigration. It deals with a statement made two days ago by Mr. Jean Desy, director of the international service of the C.B.C., whose job it is to tell people all over the world what an attractive place Canada is to live in. He is supposed to be our prime salesman; yet, when speaking to the Richelieu Club in Quebec on Wednesday, and according to a prepared statement given out in advance to the Canadian press and obviously intended to be given very great publicity, Mr. Desy made the following statement, and I quote his words as they appear both in the prepared text and in their exact reproduction by the newspaper Le Canada on April 23.

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?

An hon. Member:

What paper?

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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

Le Canada. Mr. Desy said:

The two principal ethnic groups in Canada have natural, historical and constitutional rights to which new Canadians of other origin have no claim.

I believe, Mr. Chairman, that his statement is calculated to antagonize not only people who have recently come to this country from Europe and other parts of the world, but also those who have lived here for many years. Many of the people to whom Mr. Desy refers as having no natural, historical or constitutional rights have become very distinguished citizens of this country, and are among the best citizens we have.

I think it is a very strange statement indeed to come from a government employee whose job it is to speak to people all over the world telling them what an attractive place Canada is. I believe that by this statement he has said that Canada is a country in which we have two classes of citizens. I do not believe that is the kind of statement that is calculated to make people want to come to Canada.

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?

Joseph Henry Harris

Mr. Harris:

Does the hon. member not know that the English and French languages are guaranteed by the constitution, and that no other languages are?

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

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April 24, 1953