I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity tonight to make a few comments on the productivity resolution now before us. I admit that when I first thought about discussing the matter at this particular stage of the proceedings I felt a certain amount of frustration and dissatisfaction because of the tendency to draw resolutions in relatively wide terms and because of the difficulty of a member in knowing what is behind the resolution. However, on contemplation I can see the advantages offered to a member to make some positive suggestions without the impediment of having the rigidity of a bill before him. I hope to make a few random observations on some of the matters which I feel should be dealt with by a national productivity council.
I feel that this resolution is the culmination of some of the earlier pieces of legislation which have immediately preceded it. The interest of the government in the productivity of this nation has been exhibited
during this session by the legislation covering small business loans, the legislation on vocational training and the trade promotion conferences called by the Minister of Trade and Commerce. We have had some 111 trade commissioners come from 49 countries throughout the world. The interest of the government has also been exhibited in the guarantee of export credits. I feel that this resolution concerning the productivity council is the logical culmination of all these ideas.
I believe the Minister of Trade and Commerce indicated very succinctly the objectives of this particular resolution. We will have a 24-man productivity council with an executive head. The council will be in existence for a term of some three years. I think the most important thing that was pointed out in the course of the debate was that some $150,000 will be put up on a yearly basis by the government.
At first blush this $150,000 seems relatively small. I am inclined to agree that it looks rather small, but on the other hand I think it underlines very clearly what is the objective of the government. The government has stated, we are prepared to start this national productivity council and if labour, management and industry generally think this council is worth while they are going to be prepared to put up their money. The Minister of Trade and Commerce has indicated in introducing the resolution that the government is prepared to match the money put up by business. I would hazard a guess that the amount is not unlimited, but I also would imagine it will be relatively extensive.
One of the things I should like to see in the productivity council is a close liaison with the dominion bureau of statistics. I feel that the main function of this council, with its relatively small initial staff-it will have to be small with a budget of $150,000-will be the preparation of statistical information. I hope that in preparing this information the council will work very closely, and I am sure it will, with the dominion bureau of statistics. I feel that, with an organization of this nature, the way the organization starts off is of prime importance.
As hon. members know, I come from British Columbia, one of the outermost provinces of this great nation, and we are some 3,000 miles away from Ottawa. It is my feeling that the only way to bring the reality of the productivity council to the outermost provinces and cities is to have the members of the productivity council visit all parts of Canada. They could visit the major cities and indicate to industries, labour and management, what the productivity council could do for these people. I somehow imagine that the initial start of the
productivity council, in so far as its local organizations are concerned, will be a meld of some local chambers of commerce and local trade unions. I feel that will be basic to the success of this organization because one of the things that is facing Canada is the tremendous technological change that is occurring all the time. It is only through the planning of labour and management, government planning on a long term basis so that there will be a minimum of effect on the workers in the various industries, that technological changes will be accomplished smoothly and to the maximum possible advantage to the country generally.
In that connection I think the productivity council could well concentrate on what I consider is one of the symptoms of the difficulties between management and labour. I refer to the strike. According to the dominion bureau of statistics, in 1958 there were some 2,872,300 man work days lost because of strikes. In 1959, some 2,386,000 man work days were lost because of strikes. These figures refer only to strikes in which more than 100 people were involved. Personally, I am not interested in whether labour is right or whether management is right. I think these strikes and this lost time are symptomatic of a break-down in labour-management relations. I feel that the productivity council could be of immeasurable assistance in providing the statistical information on productivity and by narrowing down the areas of difference between management and labour. I feel this would have the effect of cutting down the losses through strikes.
Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world, but the rest of the countries do not care. Japan does not care; Germany does not care; Russia does not care. The only people who are going to be interested in the Canadian standard of living are Canadians. I think it is important that Canadians work through the productivity council to maximize the productivity of this nation and maintain the singularly high standard of living that we have.
There have been references to the British productivity council and there has been an allusion to the United States. In 1957 their joint congressional economic committee in the 85th congress made a complete survey of productivity and prices. Their objective was to integrate as much as possible of the data on productivity. I feel that our productivity council would do well to take this example as their initial objective. I think that within their definite limitations such an objective is a most important and immediately feasible thing.
What is the scope of the productivity council going to be? To what extent can this council examine into research? We shall shortly be setting up a committee on research that was started in the last session, namely the one that is examining into the national research council. I think it is important that the productivity council work in close cooperation with this particular body. We must consider whether the productivity council will be a clearing house for ideas in Canada. I hope that it will be such a clearing house. I hope that industry will be able to support it financially to the extent that it will become a Canadian clearing house.
How far is research going to go? We think of technical research such as research into medicine and into engineering. Will the productivity handle, for example, the problems of the aviation industry? From time to time the hon. member for Laurier has mentioned the bilateral agreements and the fact that he has felt that Canada has very often come out second best. Perhaps in certain instances he is right. There are small nations such as Holland and Belgium with first ranking aviation companies such as K.L.M. and Sabena and they have done the background research necessary to get the bilateral agreements that brought the greatest benefit to their particular countries. I feel that is one field that should be investigated. That is one field perhaps in which the productivity council might offer encouragement and work with the aviation industry.
I mention the aviation industry because I feel that to a large extent it is perhaps underrated or is taken for granted in Canada. I make that statement because in Montreal we have the International Civil Aviation Organization. Montreal is a world centre for aviation. In the commercial transport field we have the International Air Transport Association which is also based in Montreal. We also have McGill University which has an institute of air and space law drawing people from every corner of the world for the study of aviation. In my opinion that is a field in which the productivity council can produce the necessary initiative in order to provide for the exchange of ideas and to put Canada into a better competitive position having regard to world aviation.
I have tried at this time to indicate in general the direction which I feel the productivity council should take. In my opinion the step taken by the Prime Minister, in initiating this idea in October, and by the Minister of Trade and Commerce in the introduction of this resolution is yet another indication of our aggressive attitude to get out and become competitive. I think the Minister of Trade and Commerce underlined the
situation quite clearly when he pointed out that the other nations do not owe Canada a living. Our only hope of maintaining our present standard of living and increasing our productivity is through the establishment of this council with the active participation of labour, management, farmers and the public in general and with the awareness that we are basically all Canadians and must get out and fight for our share of the market.
When the bill is brought into the house I hope we shall find some of these ideas embodied in that particular piece of legislation. If not, I hope that close attention will be given to those ideas so that we may establish a national productivity council for Canadians.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR ESTABLISHMENT, EXERCISE OF POWERS, ETC.