August 11, 1956


Item agreed to. 180. To provide for expenses of the economics and research branch, $547,762.


PC

Wallace Bickford (Wally) Nesbitt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nesbitt:

In connection with this particular item, this morning I could not help but hear over the C.B.C. news that Dr. Cyril James of McGill University made an announcement. I am sorry that I did not have facilities at the moment to take down exactly what the announcement said, but as I recall, it was to the effect that Dr. Cyril James announced that at a meeting recently held the

various heads of universities had discussed this question of training engineers and technicians. As a result of this conference the heads of the various universities estimated that the number of engineers and scientists being turned out by all the universities and technical schools in the United States and in the free world put together were just about equal to one-half of the scientists and engineers being trained in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

As I recall the bulletin, Dr. James apparently said that a further meeting would be held later in the year to discuss this question of training engineers and scientists.

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LIB

John Horace Dickey (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Defence Production)

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

Order.

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PC

Wallace Bickford (Wally) Nesbitt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nesbitt:

There is one thing that is quite clear to me, Mr. Chairman. We have heard this matter discussed repeatedly in this house on several occasions and under other headings.

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LIB

John Horace Dickey (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Defence Production)

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

Order.

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PC

Wallace Bickford (Wally) Nesbitt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nesbitt:

If the senior member for Halifax would keep still-

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LIB

John Horace Dickey (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Defence Production)

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

I will rise on a point of order, and I should like the hon. member to indicate how what he is saying is in any way related to the economics and research branch of the Department of Labour.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

I should like very much to answer. It is the item under which this whole question was discussed in the committee and in the house, and the hon. member is certainly quite in order.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

If the hon. member for Halifax would care to wait a minute I, as chairman, would like to have some assistance from the Minister of Labour because I am not informed about this item.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

The topic which my hon. friend is approaching now comes under several items in my estimates, some under labour and some under unemployment insurance. I agree with the hon. member for Hamilton West that under item 180, to provide for expenses of the economics and research branch, part of the duties of that branch is to carry out a study of manpower, womanpower and personnel for employment in Canada; whereas under the Unemployment Insurance Act and the national employment service comes more directly the role of assisting those people in the finding of employment.

While I am on my feet, perhaps my hon. friend would not mind if I anticipated one or two points he made. He has, I am sure, read the very long statement and the schedules and charts which I put on the record on June 14, which bear directly on his topic.

67509-472J

Supply-Labour

Added to that, this year, 1956, is hearing not only many speeches on the part of the principal of McGill University, but by a great many other people. In addition to that, some intensive study is going on on this very topic. This week the second meeting of university representatives and others conferred with us in the Department of Labour and held meetings upon it. Another one is taking place down in my own province of New Brunswick at St. Andrews-by-the-sea early in September on this topic and I assure him, Mr. Chairman, that I do not believe the matter is being overlooked in so far as Canada is concerned.

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PC

Wallace Bickford (Wally) Nesbitt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nesbitt:

I am delighted to hear the remarks of the Minister of Labour to the effect that this matter is being carefully considered. As I have already said on previous occasions, this matter has been brought up. It is giving great concern not only to members of this house but to responsible people all over the country.

The other matter I wish to raise at this point is a matter which no doubt has been considered, but I think it should be emphasized again. I believe, in the remarks attributed to Dr. James this morning over the air, the difficulty in Canada was with respect to training technical personnel, engineers and scientists. The difficulty is the fact that there are simply no facilities, or inadequate facilities, at the present time to train the people who might be required. Because of the great difficulty that the municipalities and provincial governments have in financing this matter I know that many universities rely on private donations, which is a very fine thing; but in this country I cannot think of any university that can rely entirely on private donations. They cannot possibly provide the facilities without very substantial help from the provincial governments.

We are faced at the present time-and I think the problem is recognized-with a shortage of technical people and scientists. If this matter is not corrected very soon it may be a matter of life and death to all of us in the near future. The municipal and provincial governments cannot handle it; they have not the finances to do it. The minister has indicated that the Department of Labour is apparently taking an interest in this matter, and is looking into it to see what can be done, or should be done. Undoubtedly, Mr. Chairman, it is a question that is going to land eventually squarely on the shoulders of the federal government. Unless the provinces and the municipalities have more money to construct training facilities for these people they are not going to be able to do it and

Supply-Labour

the federal government is going to have to do it either directly or indirectly. If something is not done about it soon all of us here are going to suffer very severely, and our successors will be more likely to suffer in the future.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Mr. Chairman, since the day on which the minister made his statement to the house there has been a veritable rash of announcements with reference to conferences and studies which are being made. The minister himself just referred to one that is taking place in St. Andrews from September 9 to September 11, sponsored by the dominion council of professional engineers. The conference that the hon. member for Oxford has just spoken about, of course, was announced on the radio this morning. In addition, statements have been made by responsible people on this subject.

In the committee on estimates I think the thing that bothered everyone was the inability to procure information, which we thought that branch of the department would have at its fingertips. When the minister spoke on the introduction of his estimates he produced a very important statement on this matter. At that time it was quite apparent that the information that had not been available in the study of the estimates had been produced in the interim, probably on instructions from the minister's office. If all of these conferences that have taken place and are taking place, and those persons who have seen fit to make statements on this very important matter, could be brought together and their resources and information pooled, probably we would then have the information we seek.

I ask the minister whether the green light has been given to this branch of his department to go ahead, because I am convinced the reason we did not have the information in the first place was that they did not have the authority to proceed with the compilation of the information. Certainly, it did not take very long to get once the matter had been threshed out in the committee. I suggest that the minister should give the green light to the economics and research division of his department to go ahead and procure this information, to pool the resources of those various bodies to see whether we cannot come up with the answer to an extremely important question. This should be done not only at the engineering and scientific level, but also at the technical and vocational level.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Mr. Chairman, I think my hon. friend's remarks deserve a comment because of the fact that I admitted at once at the first meeting of the estimates committee that

we were armed completely with those things affecting technical training which come within our jurisdiction in relation to the provinces.

As my hon. friend knows, this field divides itself very clearly into two parts. There are the professional, technical personnel and there are the non-professional. We have had the responsibility defined by this parliament to assist in the training of the non-professional technical personnel through the Vocational Training Co-ordination Act, which we have attempted to develop very fully and very successfully, I think.

In the other field we have approached it, I am frank to say, in part. Under the unemployment insurance commission we have the executive and professional branch, which undertakes not only to compile figures, but to give very active service to executive professional people in finding suitable employment, and to corporations and governments in finding executive and professional people for those services.

The hon. member was kind enough to admit that after a lapse of a few weeks we did procure a fairly creditable survey of the whole field, as is indicated in Hansard of June 14. Since that time we have followed that up. My colleague, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, has under his jurisdiction a great amount of material in the dominion bureau of statistics. We do not feel that it requires parliamentary sanction. Perhaps it does not require that the Department of Labour be especially earmarked for that purpose, but since it is related to manpower, and to the suitable employment of our manpower in Canada, we have this year strengthened our resources for dealing with it.

One other point was made that I should like to mention. It was made in the committee on estimates. The fear was expressed that we were losing a great many of our engineers, and of our professional and scientific people during those years. We are losing some, but we are not losing anything like the number that is sometimes said.

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PC
LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

I have figures for the last three years. This comes from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and covers the influx of engineers from the United States into Canada and the average for those three years coming in from the United States is 140 per year. We have figures concerning those who are going out to the United States and the average is 249 per year so that the net loss is the difference between those two figures.

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PC

IX, 1956

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

Is the minister able to tell us what the influx of engineers has been from England and Europe?

Topic:   IX, 1956
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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

We have not yet been able to get anything like an accurate statement on that but I am glad my colleague has mentioned it because the net is certainly in our favour rather than against us.

Topic:   IX, 1956
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

I understand that the balance of exports and imports of engineers was about 1,000 in favour of Canada in the year 1955.

Topic:   IX, 1956
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August 11, 1956