When the 33 Conservative members met in Moncton they drew up the Atlantic resolutions. I have asked about these Atlantic resolutions and, I was told, of course, that these matters which would help the employment situation were taking up the time of the house, that these questions should not be asked and did not merit answers. But I wish to commend one of the Conservative members from the maritime provinces-
It is easy to get a hand now, isn't it? -and that is the hon. member for Pictou. The hon. member for Pictou placed on the order paper a resolution dealing with the Atlantic resolutions for the decentralization of industry and the establishment of crown corporations in the maritime provinces. Of course, that would assist us in dealing with the unemployment situation. Also the resolutions called for discussion of special fiscal considerations to provide encouragement for industries who locate themselves in that area.
will support the hon. member for Pictou in his resolution, and I hope that when he brings this matter up in this house it will not be treated as a joke as it was treated when I asked the Prime Minister a question about it, as something which takes up the time of the house unnecessarily. To the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture I would say that parity prices for potatoes for New Brunswick growers would be more in his line than to ridicule the decentralization of industry and helping industry in the maritime provinces.
These are some of the ways in which employment could be assisted in the maritime provinces. I was referred by the Minister of Finance to the speech from the throne with regard to the special fiscal considerations for private enterprises. He did not understand them at first, but then he referred me to the speech from the throne. I hope he will not refer the hon. member for Pictou to the speech from the throne when this matter comes up for discussion.
Besides these people in Kent county I spoke of there are those in Albert country represented by the parliamentary assistant
to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, many of whom work in Moncton with the C.N.R. and other industries in that area. The hon. member for Saint John-Albert held rallies there in May and June, and the advertisement for the rally on June 6 speaks of refreshments. I wonder if he is prepared to go back to Albert county and offer those people ice cream instead of jobs.
This resolution is a move in the right direction. However, I will commend once again to the Minister of Labour the new national policy outlined on page 7, article 5, so that before this measure goes through the house he may have an opportunity to broaden the resolution so as to include the matters contained in the Diefenbaker doctrine.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to take part in this debate for a few moments only in order to express my gratitude to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) with regard to the amendments he is bringing forward concerning the present Unemployment Insurance Act.
Like those who have taken part in this debate before me, I do wish however to express the fear that the suggested amendments may not be precisely those which we would have liked to be brought to this act, at least with regard to the area I represent in this house. On the few occasions when I have had the opportunity of speaking about this matter in this house, I have expressed the views of my constituents in this connection. I have asked, above all, for the decentralization of unemployment insurance offices and, then, for the simplification of the procedures to be complied with in order to obtain benefits.
I realize, Mr. Chairman, that when this proposed resolution has been adopted, the amendments will allow a certain number of people to receive benefits to which they would not have been entitled otherwise. According to the figures quoted by the minister, the number of people thus involved will range between 30,000 and 40,000.
I respectfully submit Mr. Chairman, that one of the amendments which had been forecast and which hon. members were expecting concerned the qualifications of claimants, a provision which will be found in section 50, subsection 2 of the legislation. The amendment I have in mind would have reduced at least from 15 to 10 the number of stamps required for qualification in the case of those who claim unemployment insurance benefits.
Like the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Poulin)-his constituency is nearly adjacent my own or, at least, has the same general living conditions-I will state that those who have been most seriously hit in previous years
by unemployment are in the first place workers in the construction industries and then bushworkers.
If it is recognized that there are unemployed people at this time in these two classes of workers, we also know that a great number of those workers have not worked long enough since March 31 to accumulate a sufficient number of stamps to make them eligible for the benefits and, consequently, they will not be helped by the improvements in the act, as they nevertheless might have hoped to be.
Another point on which I wish to draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, is the state of emergency which is invoked for the presentation of this bill. To my mind, it is somewhat contradictory to propose an amendment to the act presumably because of a state of urgency and not providing that this amendment is only for a temporary period.
According to information given us by the minister, the amendments to this act will cost the unemployment insurance fund at least 15 million dollars and most likely a still greater amount. It means that the present unemployment situation is not normal and that, as the case of the unemployed people is to be considered as a whole, the amendments must be helpful to the majority, whatever their effects on the fund, even if afterwards the fund has to be brought back to its present level.
A short while ago I heard the hon. member for St. Hyacinthe-Bagot (Mr. Ricard) say that the Conservative party was not the party of unemployment and hardship. Well, I say to him that if he wants to place the blame for unemployment on a political party, the Liberal party has many achievements to its credit. During 22 years, as was so well said by the former minister of fisheries (Mr. Sinclair) a few moments ago, the Liberal party, through the numerous social security measures which it has introduced, including this Unemployment Insurance Act which now serves as an expedient to the Conservative party to cope at least in part with the present serious situation, has not been a negative but a truly positive party. Without all the measures which have been introduced by the party to which I belong, I wonder in what situation the population of the whole of Canada would be at the present time.
Mr. Chairman, on a question of privilege. Does my hon. friend allow me to ask whether the Conservative party, in the light of the legislation which it has now introduced, is a negative or a positive party?
I do not mean that the Conservative party, because it is introducing that
Unemployment Insurance Act legislation, is a negative party. I do not complain about that. I say that my hon. friend, in referring to his party at the end of his remarks, stated that it was not such and such a thing; therefore, his party is perhaps a negative party. I wish also to point out to him that the proposed amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act are possible only because, under Liberal governments, we have lived through periods of prosperity which have made it possible for the contributions paid to the unemployment insurance fund to reach about a billion dollars.
I can simply tell my hon. friend that he himself mentioned a moment ago that his party was not the party of hardship and unemployment.
Let me also tell him that people are interested not so much in what a party is not as in what a party has done, and I repeat what I said a few moments ago, i.e. that if all the legislation now enjoyed by the people did not already exist, depression and hardship would be upon them. Now, all this legislation has been introduced and passed by Liberal governments and not by the Conservative party.