June 26, 1954

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Yes. We try to keep abreast of conditions here and give our instructions to our officers abroad on a timely basis, and not too far behind conditions. If I remember correctly, I do not think there is any real

difficulty of an engineer getting employment in Canada. I would be surprised if that particular trade was one about which we had sent special instructions abroad. It may happen that this particular person has had the misfortune of not getting employment. I am sure our settlement officers will work overtime to get him another place as soon as possible.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton:

In answering questions of the hon. member for Kamloops regarding the inaccessibility of certain information on which decisions are based, the minister left one point which at least to my satisfaction was not answered. I would like it explained just a little bit. I am speaking of a person seeking entry into Canada who is refused permission to come in as an immigrant without having the grounds on which that refusal is based given to him. Because of the condition of records in Europe and in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe, and with all of the uncertainties that occur in an investigation such as that, it is quite conceivable that the information procured by the department may be wrong. I am not speaking of a particular case. I know of many where it could be argued, but I would rather speak in general terms. It is conceivable that the information procured by the department may be wrong, may be completely erroneous.

As I see it at the present time this almost star chamber attitude on this particular aspect of the problem means that a person has no opportunity whatsoever to go to the minister and his department and give them information in order to pursue the matter further and perhaps correct any errors which may have crept into the information they have. Can the minister explain how that happens?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I am sure my hon. friend knows that we consider many cases six, seven and even eight times, and that the situation is not as simple as he makes it out to be. Indeed, far from there being a star chamber court of any kind, our officers abroad are there for the purpose of getting immigrants and not for preventing them coming to Canada, unless the circumstances are such that the people concerned are barred under the regulations. When we tell people they cannot come in there are not very many who get in touch with me and ask why. I seldom have appeals of this nature and I do not very often get letters except from members of parliament, and quite properly they write me and ask for an explanation. But I think in most cases the reason is usually fairly obvious and probably known to the disappointed applicant.

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration Nevertheless, I assure the hon. member that if a person has a good case and he is persistent about it we recognize that the information we have might be added to and other interpretations placed upon it so that the person who is rejected might very well convince us that he should be admitted.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

Can the minister answer my question regarding the operations of the Welch company in Canada?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I forgot about that, Mr. Chairman. The Welch company is an independent contractor which builds railway projects and as such it is independent of the railways. My hon. friend this afternoon made some reference to the relationship between persons going from the Canadian National Railways to the Welch company. As I indicated about something else, this is news to me. The *Welch company is one of the few companies that accept contracts for the building of railways in remote areas and they are constantly asking us to provide immigrants because after checking with the national employment service they are unable to obtain labourers to go into these remote areas to work, and they contact the immigration office which supplies these people with immigrant workers. They pay wages which occasionally come under criticism in the press, but the wages are always within the standards set in each of the provinces in which this work is carried out and, in fact, in some cases I think they are fairly generous. We have had two or three complaints, one from Manitoba and one from British Columbia. We investigated both of them and we found that the conditions were not as outlined in the newspaper reports but were due to some exaggerated statements made by a discharged employee.

As far as I am concerned our relationship with the Welch company is a good one and we provide them with workers they could not otherwise obtain in order to carry out the work which I think helps the people of Canada generally.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

The minister says they bring in workers for railway projects because workers cannot be found in Canada. But just a couple of days ago I received a protest from the trades and labour council of Fort William protesting against the fact that the Welch company had brought in a number of immigrants from Portugal while the people of Fort William, who were looking for the jobs these immigrants from Portugal were given, could not obtain work.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I would point out, Mr. Chairman, that these are not maintenance workers on the railway. They are labourers carrying stones and other things about. They are not

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Supply-Citizenship and Immigration permanent railway workers but common day labourers and in every case before we bring these people in we check with the national employment service to find out if they can fulfil the requirements.

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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

I am encouraged by the minister's expansive mood to ask one further question on the point raised by the hon. member for Notre Dame de Grace. I have been interested in -cases in which the grounds given for exclusion were marked confidential. Earlier in the discussion today the minister said that the circumstances of war are not weighted so heavily in considering applications for immigration, and by private inquiry I discovered that the grounds for exclusion are related to what was regarded as subversive activity during the war. May I take the liberty of placing this case before the minister?

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

By all means.

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Item agreed to. 62. To provide, subject to the approval of treasury board, for trans-oceanic and inland transportation assistance for immigrants, including care en route and while awaiting employment, $500,000.


PC

Thomas Miller Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell:

I would like to ask the minister what obligations are placed upon an immigrant coming out under the assisted loan passage scheme to remain in his intended occupation.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

We have had discussions every session on this matter on the estimates and my hon. friend could profitably read the past discussions. But briefly, if we loan him the money to come here he is obliged to remain in employment which we stipulated up to a period of 24 months depending on the time set for the repayment of the loan.

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PC

Thomas Miller Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell:

I just want to make one comment in connection with that. I had a question on the order paper earlier this session asking about the plan, how much had been given out, and how much had been collected, and according to the answer I was pleased to note that something like 79 per cent had been collected. But I asked just how many remained at their stipulated jobs for the period intended and I received the answer that no statistics are maintained. I feel they could easily be gathered because in collecting the loan that has been made there must be some record kept as to where the cheques come from and I offer this as a suggestion. With the present criticism that seems to exist on some aspects of immigration generally I think we should definitely have a record available as to how many come out under the assisted plan and whether they

stay at their intended occupation for the stipulated periods. For all we know it may be just a blind or a ruse to bring out a certain group and they may leave after three or four months, even though the loan is paid back in 80 per cent of the cases.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

My hon. friend should not suggest that this government does anything for any motive other than that which it announces. The assisted passage loan scheme was announced by me some three years ago for a specific purpose and it received the endorsation of the house. In fact, I was congratulated for introducing it, and the only criticism there has been with respect to it is the question my hon. friend raises, namely, that the persons who come do not live up to their obligations. But no one in this house has yet suggested that we abandon a policy of that kind. Indeed I think they would prefer that this service be continued and that we continue our efforts to assist people in this way.

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PC

Thomas Miller Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell:

I would like to make it clear that I was not criticizing the plan. I simply asked that figures be made available as to the number of those who remained in their intended occupations.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Until my hon. friend asked the question no one else did, and we have been trying to study the matter to see if we can get an answer.

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Item agreed to. Welfare of Indians- 69. Construction or acquisition of buildings, works, land and new equipment, $962,524.


PC

Daniel Roland Michener

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Michener:

Has any figure been worked out on the total public expenditure per capita? There is a very substantial expenditure here of $18 million. In the Department of National Health and Welfare there is another $15 million for health services with respect to Indians and Eskimos. It would be interesting to have it if there is such a figure at hand. It would be interesting to know what it is per capita for the population.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I have not that figure, but I will get it for my hon. friend.

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Item agreed to. Education- 73. Construction or acquisition of buildings, works, land and new equipment, $3,824,200.


June 26, 1954