January 23, 1958

OLD AGE SECURITY

PROFESSOR HUSON


On the orders of the day:


LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Bonavisia-Twil-lingaie):

I should like to ask the Minister of National Health and Welfare a question. Since the Prime Minister did not have the information available yesterday, and since I assume that the minister is the responsible minister, can he tell the house whether Professor Huson is being paid at the rate of $35,000 a year, as reported in the Ottawa Journal? If not, can he tell us at what rate he is being paid and whether there is any time limit on the payment?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   PROFESSOR HUSON
Sub-subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REMUNERA- TION TO BE PAID
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PC

Jay Waldo Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. J. W. Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

I think it is only fair to say at this time that no fixed salary has been decided at this point.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   PROFESSOR HUSON
Sub-subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REMUNERA- TION TO BE PAID
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

May I ask the minister a supplementary question. Has the minister examined the files of his department in order to see whether all the information which Professor Huson is seeking is not already available in the department?

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   PROFESSOR HUSON
Sub-subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REMUNERA- TION TO BE PAID
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   PROFESSOR HUSON
Sub-subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REMUNERA- TION TO BE PAID
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PC

Jay Waldo Monteith (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Monteith:

Professor Huson is certainly going to get some assistance from my department, but he is also going to make a complete investigation and factual study of the United States system.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   PROFESSOR HUSON
Sub-subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REMUNERA- TION TO BE PAID
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Hon. members should not laugh at that question.

Topic:   OLD AGE SECURITY
Subtopic:   PROFESSOR HUSON
Sub-subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REMUNERA- TION TO BE PAID
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AGRICULTURE

MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.


The house resumed, from Wednesday, January 22, consideration of the motion of Mr. Harkness for the second reading of Bill No. 237, to provide for the stabilization of the prices of agricultural commodities, and the amendment thereto of Mr. McCullough. (Translation):


LIB

Georges Villeneuve

Liberal

Mr. Georges Villeneuve (Roberval):

Mr. Speaker, when the house adjourned last night, I was dealing with the psychological

aspect of this bill which provides for the stabilization of the prices of agricultural commodities. I should now like to touch upon the practical aspects of this plan.

It is no exaggeration to say that the dairy industry is the backbone of Quebec agriculture. I might add that, in my own constituency, Roberval, it accounts for at least half of the total annual farm income. The support price of butter at 58 cents a pound has saved the farmers of my riding from bankruptcy. It has brought them a degree of security which, although it has not made them rich, has allowed them to pull through. The former St. Laurent government saw fit to support the price of butter at 58 cents a pound although at certain times 125 million pounds of it were in storage throughout the country and butter was selling at 38 cents a pound on the international market. May I congratulate the former minister of agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) on his understanding of the problems of eastern farmers, and especially those in the province of Quebec when in 1955, at a time when he was considering to discontinue the support price for butter, because of a surplus in excess of a hundred million pounds, he yielded to the representations of a delegation from rural counties, of which I was a member, requesting that the support price be kept at the same level. Instead of letting that butter spoil in warehouses, the former government sold much of it on the international market and allowed our educational institutions and hospitals to take advantage of the international market price, 38 cents a pound. No sooner had the present government come to power than that privilege was withdrawn from those institutions, to their utter dismay and my own personal deep regret.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

Under this bill, unless the new board of stabilization of agricultural prices uses other standards than the average price over the previous ten years, what will be the new guaranteed price for butter?

In 1957, the average price of first grade butter on the Montreal market was 60.6 cents a pound. According to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, in the ten years prior to 1958, (that is from 1947 to 1957 inclusive) the average price of butter was 62 cents a pound. Under this bill,-if the board does not take into account other factors than the average price on a 10-year basis,- the guaranteed price of butter will be 49.6 cents a pound, 8.4 cents less than the support price granted by the former Liberal government under the Agricultural Prices Support Act. And if there should be a surplus of butter, as happened these last few years, farmers could count only on this guaranteed price of 49.6 cents a pound, and would have no alternative but to sell their herds as beef cattle and give up the none too prosperous dairy industry.

That is why I urge the government to give special consideration to the basis it will adopt in setting the floor price of butter, so that the price will not be lower than the 58 cent support price now in force. This is a matter of primary importance to the farm people of my constituency, whose interests it is my duty to protect.

According to figures supplied by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the 80 per cent average which is to be set as a guaranteed price for the following products would be these:

Guaranteed price 1958

Average price 1957 80 per cent

Commodity cents Grade Market centsHogs B-l Toronto

23.36 per poundButter

60.6 per pound No. 1 Montreal

49.6 per poundBeef .... 18.95 per pound Good Toronto

17.44 per poundEggs "A" large Montreal

45.4 per doz.Cheese

34.1 per pound White Toronto

27.0 per poundSheep

22.75 per pound Good Toronto

19.58 per pound

As this bill concerns the stabilization of farm prices by the establishment of guaranteed minimum prices set a year in advance, I would see in it the possibility of some security for the farmer if there was some relationship between the cost of the services required by the farmer-namely the price of farm implements and other farm equipment he has to buy as well as his labour costs- and the standards to be used in setting the

stabilization prices of farm products under this bill. That is why I really wonder about the advantages which this legislation would bring to the Canadian farmer. I realize it is by no means easy, at a time when agriculture is undergoing radical changes, to find a perfect solution to the difficult problem facing our agricultural class which, in our part of the country, is passing from the family stage

96698-233J

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization to the industrial stage, a change tor which our farmers are not all adequately prepared.

It would seem that, to face competition, our farmers will soon be forced to become something like managers of medium sized industrial concerns, and deal with such matters as market trends and production costs. Many of them, already, are clearly aware of those hard realities of our times. In my constituency in particular, with its growing number of progressive farmers, I have noticed a trend toward mechanization, development of larger farm areas and even specialization in a particular type of agricultural production, for instance poultry, hogs or eggs. It seems to me that those trends should not be ignored, and I believe it is time the agricultural loans' act were substantially improved for the benefit of farmers who wish to expand their farms and to make greater use of machinery so as to lower their operating costs as much as possible and also to encourage them to put on the market the finished products required by the consumer. All such capital expenditure requires funds beyond the means of the average farmer, however anxious he may be to keep up with the times.

Along with this last suggestion, I would like the industrial development bank to make its facilities more readily available to small industries in our agricultural communities, so as to open up local markets for our farmers. Not only would those small industries absorb a certain amount of agricultural manpower not at present interested in agriculture-therefore unwittingly overcrowding the farming profession-but would create jobs for those people.

It has always been my view that farming and industry should go hand in hand and that industry and farming in Canada will prosper only at such time as the farm worker can count on a yearly income comparable to that of the industrial worker, taking into account the particular obligations, risks and advantages in each group and profession.

As I like to believe in the good intentions of everybody, I am prepared to adopt this attitude towards the minister, whom I admire for piloting this far, with unruffled patience, so ungainly a bill, and I ask him in closing to avail himself wisely of the discretionary powers which are his under subsection 2 of clause 2 of this bill, if it passes, so that this legislation might serve the interests of farm people, as he expects it will. A 100 per cent farm legislation for an agricultural class 100 per cent worthy of the name, that is what I request for the farmers of my constituency.

(Text):

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. G. H. Caslleden (Yorkton):

Mr. Speaker, this bill is too vitally important to the family farm everywhere in Canada to be allowed to pass in its present form. To the prairie regions, where agriculture is the main foundation of the economy, this will not only mean the end of the family farm as such, but it will mean depression to every community in that area. This is a fight for the rights of the working people, those people who toil with the sod to make a living for their families on their home property.

The rapid decline of the family farm across this nation can only be accurately described as desperate. The figures prepared by the dominion bureau of statistics illustrating the farmer's net income and gross income as compared with the rapidly rising costs of farming prove to any one who is willing to look at the situation that the farmer is lost in a cost-price squeeze. His position is desperate and requires remedial action, not just a palliative. There is something basically wrong with the position of agriculture in our economy, and measures must be adopted that will rectify the basic wrong.

I am not blaming the present government for the condition of agriculture, but it will be [DOT] blamed if it does not move rapidly to remedy the position. An analysis of the population of the prairie region at the present time shows with regard to those who were actually engaged in farming that approximately 12 per cent have left the farms in the past five years and about 10 per cent are still making a living though in many cases they are living on the depreciation of their farm machinery, while the rest are hanging on the ropes and cannot continue in their present condition for very long. These people are looking to this government to do something. They are justified in doing so because this government said it would take action to prevent the further decline of agriculture and improve its position in general.

The decline of agriculture under the previous government has left that industry in a desperate position. I believe the defeat of the previous government in the agricultural regions of Canada was largely due to the fact that that government had lost touch with the every-day problems of the toiling farmer. The previous administration completely failed to recognize the actual condition of the farmer.

I do not think this was ever better illustrated than during the past election in the province of Manitoba. The Winnipeg Free Press of May 20 carried a report of a public

meeting in a rural area in Manitoba which was attended by the former minister of trade and commerce, Right Hon. C. D. Howe. Mr. Howe was the minister of the government responsible for trade and commerce, the man whose policies were responsible for the export of Canada's surplus grain. Trade policy is the responsibility of government, but under the previous administration the farmer was left to bear the burden of the problems created by lack of trade. The article to which I referred as an illustration of the previous government's failure to recognize the position of agriculture reads in part as follows:

A bronzed farmer rushed into the Carman memorial hall as Mr. Howe was leaving and thrust a piece of paper into his hand which purported to show that it cost 76 cents a bushel to grow oats. "Why'd you cut the price from 60 to 55 cents?" demanded the farmer. Mr. Howe asked him where he got the figure. The farmer said that it was from "statistics".

The reply of the then minister of trade and commerce revealed the attitude of the previous government, which was the reason for its failure and collapse, the reason it deserved to be defeated. What did the minister reply? As reported in this article the minister said:

"You look pretty well fed." said the trade minister, patting the farmer on the stomach with the back of his hand.

There could not have been a clearer presentation of what agriculture really requires than the words of this young farmer, who asked a straightforward, simple and logical question of the minister of the former government who was responsible for Canada's trade policies. It was just as simple as this. The young farmer came forward and in effect said, "These are my costs of production according to your own bureau of statistics, and this is the selling price of my product according to the policy under which you sell my goods. I am skinning my costs down to the very bone. I have done my job in producing food for the hungry world. Your policies of trade have affected the markets where I sell my grain. Now, what are you going to do about it?" The reply was, "You look pretty well fed."

The former government's Agricultural Prices Support Act failed to recognize the principle of parity. The act did not contain this principle, and the former government failed to accept this principle. The Conservative government has now brought forward Bill No. 237, and our quarrel with it is that it, too, fails to accept, recognize or embody the principle of parity.

The former government would place no guarantee on the farmer's costs in its legislation. Under the act it did support prices on a few commodities such as hogs, which were supported at 23 cents in Toronto which

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization meant a support of approximately 21 cents in Winnipeg and 19 cents to farmers in Saskatchewan. These supports were at disastrous levels. Egg prices were guaranteed to packing plants, without any protection to the farmer. It is little wonder that agriculture found itself in such desperate straits and suffered a gradual decline, while the food processing and packing industries reaped tremendous dividends. The present bill fails in exactly the same way. Can it be that this government has already lost touch with the actual every-day problems of the farmer?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

Jacob Schulz

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

Mr. Schulz:

It never was in touch with

them.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

Well, it stated in this house that it was. Agriculture today requires legislation which will guarantee the farmer relief from the cost-price squeeze. It is the government and not the producer that is responsible for the costs of production. When the previous government, supported by the Conservative party at that time, removed price controls and allowed costs to skyrocket it condemned agriculture to its present plight. The farmer is caught in a cost-price squeeze from which he cannot extract himself, and he now relies on the present government to help him out. He looks to this government for this assistance because this government promised him that help.

Members of the present government from the Prime Minister down talked about parity in this house when they were in opposition. They supported and moved resolutions in this house while in opposition which would guarantee the farmer parity. Conservative candidates during the campaign went about the country advocating a program designed to assist agriculture. The Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources had the nerve yesterday to quote in this house some of the planks of the Conservative platform having to do with agriculture, as recorded at page 3621 of Hansard of yesterday's date. I will read one or two of these platform planks:

1. The Progressive Conservative party recognizes the vital place of agriculture in our national economy, stands pledged to assure the maximum stability of income to Canadian farmers.

It guarantees nothing. These are hollow promises, empty, meaningless words.

No. 2 reads:

Our party pledges itself, when returned to power, to take action to improve the condition of agriculture so that our farm people will re-establish their rightful position in our economy, so basic to, our whole national welfare.

Splendid; now do it. Then we come to No. 3r

A Progressive Conservative government wilt maintain a flexible price support program to ensure an adequate parity for agricultural producers, based: on fair price-cost relationship.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

That is where this government has failed, because it is failing to ensure parity. It does not mention the word "parity" in this bill. It does not mention a fair price-cost relationship in the bill. It fails to give the guarantee which it promised. We will accept this bill when those guarantees are written into it. We will not accept this bill until they are written into it, until there are some guarantees written into it such as the Conservative party stated in the program they presented to the Canadian people, such as the people expected when they voted this government into power.

This government was elected on June 10 and hope rose in the hearts of many people. Then a resolution appeared on the order paper shortly after October 14. Speaking to that resolution the Minister of Agriculture himself used these words, as recorded at page 2187 of Hansard of December 11. In dealing with what the farmer wants he said:

First, he wants prices for his products which will cover his cost of production and leave him enough to live on-

Exactly.

-and second, he desires a sense of security in his price structure, the removal of his long-time fear that prices will fall away to nothing while his crop is growing or his livestock developing to market size.

Then why in Heaven's name don't you do it?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harlcness:

Read what I said when this bill was up first.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Casileden:

We have been looking at the bill ever since. This was on the resolution. When the bill came down the minister was so ashamed of it himself that he brought in three amendments which did not do very much.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston (Bow River):

Which bill are you referring to; the first, second or third?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. Castleden:

I am referring to the bill now before us, Bill No. 237, with the amendments. The minister says the bill will do this. Why did he not put some guarantees in it; why did he not put the security in it that he says is here? That is all the farmer is asking for. All the farmer is asking for is exactly what the minister said, but he will not put them in the bill. They are not in the bill. It is exactly a sense of security that is required. That is just exactly what the farmer wants, a price for his product which will cover his cost of production and leave him with enough to live on; that sense of security.

Then the minister said, as recorded at page 2189 of Hansard:

I think this legislation will do everything we promised we would do so far as our campaign pledges are concerned.

*

Here is the bill. It was brought in on December 14. I think it should be called a pill rather than a bill. Certainly the minister was so ashamed of it that he made three amendments shortly after, but those amendments do absolutely nothing basic with regard to the guarantees which are necessary, and it is the guarantees that we are talking about. It is all right to talk about stabilization boards which may do this and that, and about advisory committees which may do this and that under certain regulations by order in council; but there is nothing in the bill which says this is where prices must stay; below this range prices will not be allowed to fall and those prices will be, as the minister states in his own words, such as "will cover his cost of production and leave him enough to live on". When the minister puts this in his bill we will be glad to accept it.

We have asked him to send this bill to the agriculture committee of the house. Let the agriculture committee deal with it. Since December 12 this bill could have gone to that committee. It could have been passed earlier in the session, the committee could have been dealing with it and the minister could have received some of those recommendations from farmers and farm organizations across the country. But he came down with a bill which is a mere will o' the wisp, and nothing substantial has been done.

The bill has aroused opposition from every quarter of organized agriculture, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the provincial farm unions, the western wheat pools and others. This is what the Canadian Federation of Agriculture had to say about it after they received a copy of the bill in the amended form:

The formula in the new bill provides for a moving average of recent prices, with no necessary relation to costs.

That is what we need; that is what we are asking for. I continue:

The government says the use of a parity formula would lead to rigid price supports. The C.F.A. does not accept this: it grants that flexibility must be allowed in actually setting supports but claims that without a parity formula as a guide the economic position of the farmer becomes a constant matter of controversy.

We are going to have recommendations by stabilization boards, recommendations to cabinet, with no instructions to carry them out. There is no assurance that they will be carried out, and we are constantly going to have confusion. There will be requests for something to be done, but the farmer will be left in uncertainty and he cannot help but be left in confusion. Why not place something in the bill which relates the price of his commodity to his costs of production? If that was placed

in the bill we might have something. The federation's statement goes on to say:

This makes much more difficult constructive negotiation of price supports and useful discussion of measures needed to meet the farmers' problem.

The formula which is mentioned in this amended bill is based on the average wholesale market price for the past 10 years, and bears absolutely no relationship to the farmer's parity position.

It should be pointed out to everyone that if you follow the basic prices established by this formula they automatically continue to decline. Just so long as there is a trend toward lower farm prices, prices of farm commodities are going to decline. As long as there is a trend toward lower prices those lower guaranteed prices will persist, even though farm costs may continue to increase to higher and still higher levels, because in the bill as it stands at the present time there is no proper meshing of these two things together so the farmer himself can arrive at a stable price which would allow him to plan his production in advance and put himself in a position where he can possibly meet the serious situation which he is now facing.

This bill lacks definite assurances and guarantees which the government said in its program the farmers would have; definite assurances and guarantees which the farm organizations have asked for; definite assurances that the farm organizations have asked for in their representations to the government on this bill. Under this bill the economic position of the farmer could even deteriorate; it all depends on the whim of the government and their own regulations. The bill lacks guarantees; it lacks assurances.

It is because the bill provides no stability that we are protesting it so vigorously at this time. Those who sent us here sent us to ask for a square deal for agriculture, to ask that the family farm might be saved as the cornerstone of our economy. Under this legislation there is no assurance whatsoever that the family farm will not disappear, to be replaced by the large factory farm or the contract farm, as has happened in many countries and is happening in some parts even here in Canada.

The large packing house operators, the rich processing industries, will hire the farmer and his family to produce commodities for them at contract rates. The farmers will take all the risks and the processors will reap the profits because of a system of support prices guaranteeing floor prices in the storage plant, with rider clauses to guarantee the processor floor prices in storage and the costs of storage.

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

What this bill will have to do before we will support it is provide guarantees as to the prices the farmer receives, the prices in the hands of the producer, in the hands of the man who does the work and takes the risks. We believe this is a last ditch fight for hundreds of thousands of family farms across Canada. It is a fight to obtain some anchor of security for one of the most important industries in our economy. Instead of an anchor of security the minister has given us a balloon which he launched into the air to see how the wind was blowing.

This bill has no guarantees and it leaves the farmer without any assurance, even though he is engaged in the hazardous occupation of growing food for a hungry world. In that fine occupation, because of circumstances completely beyond his control, he has reached the verge of bankruptcy. Just as surely as the wage earner needs a minimum wage in these days of high costs of living, so the farmer must have support prices based on his production costs. The disposal of surplus products is surely the duty of the government. With the situation existing in the world today the farmer should not be compelled to carry an extra load on his already breaking back. The family farm must not be allowed to be sacrificed by a government which promised to save it. The only policy which can save it is a policy having as its foundation the principle of parity.

The bill ignores the principle of parity completely, and for that reason it must be condemned completely. We intend to continue to condemn it and to do our utmost to change it in order to make it into a piece of legislation that will at last place some foundation under this important industry. Yesterday the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources had the unmitigated gall to imply that the bill brought security and peace of mind to the long-harassed farmers of Canada, and those of western Canada particularly. What a farce. What complete misrepresentation of a bill which has within it no guarantees of security. How can a producer possibly have peace of mind if he has to operate under legislation which has no guarantees in it at all?

We shall continue to fight the battle with every means at our disposal until we are able to establish a sound foundation for security in the bill. There must be recognition of the right of the farmer to his costs of production and enough money on which to live. That is all he is asking. The bill as it stands today can be termed nothing but a callous betrayal of people who on June 10 last were given some glimmer of hope that if the Conservatives were elected to office they would

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization place a proper foundation under agriculture. The bill is a complete denial of the promise and betrayal of that hope. The people of Canada should and will reject the bill in its present form, and they will reject everyone who supports it.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 23, 1958