January 25, 1958

LABOUR CONDITIONS

FORT WILLIAM


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fort William):

I should like to ask a supplementary question of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour. Because of the strikes on the pipe lines and because of the difficulties in getting welders, Fort William has set up a welding school. I would like to know if any other 96698-241J

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization places in Canada have been following the progressive experiments introduced in Fort William and, if so, with what success?

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   FORT WILLIAM
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHOOL FOR WELDERS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. E. D. Fulton (Acting Minister of Labour):

In the absence of the minister and his parliamentary assistant I will take this question as notice along with the other questions which have been raised, and bring them to the attention of my colleague for an answer.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   FORT WILLIAM
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHOOL FOR WELDERS
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AGRICULTURE

MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.


The house resumed, from Friday, January 24, consideration in committee of Bill No. 237, to provide for the stabilization of the prices of agricultural commodities-Mr. Harkness- Mr. Rea in the chair. On clause 2-Definitions.


PC

Charles Edward Rea

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Chairman (Mr. Rea):

When we rose the committee was discussing clause 2 of Bill No. 237 and the amendment thereto. Shall the amendment carry?

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

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough:

Mr. Chairman, last evening, as you have just stated, we were discussing clause 2 of the agricultural stabilization bill. I would point out to the committee that this is the operative section of the bill and is therefore quite important.

We were discussing in particular an amendment moved on behalf of the minister to change the words which appear in the bill, "have regard to" to the words "be guided by". These words of course were in clause 2, subclause 2. The minister had stated to the committee that his law officers had advised him that the words "be guided by" are stronger than the words "have regard to".

Of course hon. members who have been in this house for some years will recall, as I do, that we have had some experience with "have regard" clauses in previous agreements. I refer particularly to the British wheat agreement. In that agreement the farmers thought they were going to get some consideration in the final settlement of the four year wheat agreement with Great Britain. However, when that settlement was finally decided upon, the western farmers did not receive what they thought had been decided.

In other words, they understood they would receive compensation because their wheat was selling under that agreement at much less than the world price. Some authorities estimated that the loss to the western farmers due to that agreement and the fact that the "have regard" clause was not adhered to amounted to between $400 million and $500 million.

3806 HOUSE OF

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization

However, I want to say that in my opinion neither the words "have regard to" nor "be guided by" are strong enough. I believe if this is to be a bill to give any assurance of a guarantee to farmers we should have something more substantial than a pious direction that regard should be paid to the average cost of production. A little later on I intend to move an amendment, but at this time I am going to ask the minister to make an explanation to the committee. It is proposed in clause 2 of the bill that the governor in council-

. . . shall be guided by the estimated average cost of production of the commodity, and such other factors as the governor in council considers to be relevant.

My question is this. Do I understand that the government is now going to set up the necessary personnel so they may at all times be in possession of the figures showing the average cost of production? If so, can the minister tell the committee that we, as members of parliament, will have in our hands copies of such reports, either from this board or from the committee or from the minister's officials, so we may be able to know the average cost of production prevailing during any period or in any year, on the basis of which we could give consideration to whether or not the governor in council was in fact being guided by the estimated cost of production?

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. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, I think it is quite obvious that it would be difficult to do anything along the lines the hon. member has indicated. What is proposed, and what I think would be done in connection with this matter, is that the information which exists as the result of certain surveys which have been carried on to determine what the average cost of production was in different areas for certain commodities would be made use of; and the advisory committee and the stabilization board, on the basis of the information available from those sources and on the basis of information available from the economics division of the Department of Agriculture, would come to a decision on what was the average cost of production.

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

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough:

I do not think the minister has given the committee the information I wanted, Mr. Chairman. He has stated that we would get this information from figures which are available. I think it is extremely difficult to get any authoritative figures with regard to an average cost of production. I should like the minister, if he can, to be more specific and say whose authority and whose figures the governor in council would accept in having regard to, or being guided by, in determining the

estimated average cost of production and setting these base support prices.

I think this is extremely important. Costs of production will vary all over the country. What type of farming will be used as a point of reference? Will it be the big corporation farm? Will it be the family farm, or will it be the smaller unit? At the present time our smaller farmers are going out of business in tens of thousands, and that is no exaggeration. Thousands of people are leaving the farms, and I should like to have some specific information from the government as to the means by which figures relating to the average cost of production are to be secured.

We in this group have said we think it is possible to get such figures. We think it is quite possible to find what is the cost of production, and from that to determine what is parity. I do not think the minister has given us any information. Is this to be done off the cuff? Is he going to proceed on the basis of some statistics compiled by the dominion bureau and by the universities, cr is the government itself going to determine these prices?

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. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, I do not think I can add anything to what I have said about the methods envisaged in arriving at this figure. The figure will vary from time to time; the cost of production in 1957, for example, would not be the cost of production in 1958. In other words you cannot set up an economic study for every commodity in Canada and determine what the cost of production was and then keep using that figure. It is going to vary very considerably, as hon. members will realize. For this reason the thing can only be done somewhat along the lines I have already indicated.

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

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough:

I do not want to belabour this point, but that is exactly what I said; cost of production will change from time to time due to the varying costs the farmer incurs in the course of his production. I should like to know from which sources the minister is going to obtain his information. I realize at once that you cannot have a rigid cost figure when farmers' costs are changing from month to month and from year to year- whenever, for instance, there is an increase in the cost of farm machinery. This year, for example, a self-propelled combine, a No. 92 Massey, is retailing in western Canada for $8,000. Two or three years ago you could have bought the same combine for $6,000, and in 1945 it cost $4,000. The minister does not need to tell hon. members of this committee that production costs are going to change.

If the minister intends to use this type of formula, and if there is anything substantial in this statement that the governor in council shall be guided by the estimated average cost of production of any commodity in setting the base price, then surely the minister must have in mind some method which will ensure at least a degree of authority in the figures he uses, in fairness to farmers.

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

May I ask the minister a question supplementary to the one which has just been asked. I had thought to bring this matter up on the section having to do with the board, but since it has come up now it would probably be better to deal with it at this time.

The publication which deals with special legislation, Federal Agricultural Assistance Programs, Canada, 1945-1956, has this to say in the first paragraph of the second page:

This act-

Meaning the Agricultural Prices Support Act, 1944.

-received royal assent on August 15, 1944 and an amendment in 1950 made it continuous from April 1, 1950. An agricultural prices support board was set up under the act to endeavour to ensure adequate and stable returns for agriculture, and to endeavour to secure a fair relationship between the returns from agriculture and those from 'other occupations. The next order in council was passed on April 5, 1946, approximately two years later. The board received operating powers by the proclamation of section 9 of the act.

In other words, when the act was put through all of it except section 9 was declared immediately, but section 9 was not declared until two years later. The reason was that in the meantime this board was to study the very matters about which the hon. member for Moose Mountain is now talking and consider all the representations that were made from time to time. My question is this. Is that not still the intention with regard to the present board, or is it something different?

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. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, as I indicated the intention is to secure all the information we can secure in regard to what the cost of production is for any particular commodity under which it seems desirable to put a support price, a guaranteed annual price.

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

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

That will be one of the

duties of the board?

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. Harkness:

Yes; and the matter of finally determining that cost would be a question for discussion between the advisory committee and the board, on which they would come to a decision and recommend what would be the average cost of production.

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

Frank Claus Christian

Social Credit

Mr. Christian:

Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask two questions of the Minister of

Agricultural Products-Price Stabilization Agriculture relating to subclause (a) (ii) of clause 2. Are there any indications now as to what designated agricultural products might be included under this clause? Further, what about fruits and vegetables?

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. Harkness:

I think the hon. member can see that under that subclause any agricultural product produced in Canada can be designated and given a guaranteed annual support price. As far as stating what particular commodities those might be is concerned, I would not like to enter the realm of prophecy at the moment. However, at the present time we have under price support sugar beets, which would be one of these designated commodities, dried skim milk which would be another, and turkeys and fowl which would be two others.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE GUARANTEED PRICES FOR CERTAIN COMMODITIES, ETC.
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January 25, 1958