February 18, 1965

PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

Two, if you wish.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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LIB

Vincent Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Drouin:

Does he know that as a member of parliament he can move an amendment? If he is not happy with the wording of clause 11, he can move an amendment and the house will vote on it. The hon. member does not have to beg or implore the Minister of Labour; as a member of the house, he can move an amendment to the bill.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

Mr. Chairman, in reply to my hon. friend from Argenteuil-Deux-Montagnes, I must say that I did not move an amendment because I wanted to give the Liberal government the opportunity to improve its political fortune which is at a low point. I am helping the government out of charity.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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PC

William Heward Grafftey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graffley:

Mr. Chairman, before we conclude the debate this evening I should like to make the following remarks. First of all, may I say there are certainly many aspects of this legislation that appeal to me and I am sure to many of the people in my riding. I am forced to speak at this time, however, because the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre has brought up something that I think every member of the house should be concerned about at the present time.

The other day I read certain statistics compiled by the Ontario federation of labour which showed that a family of four living on a total annual income of under $2,000 a year was living in absolute destitution, that a family of four with a total annual income of only $3,000 per annum was living in grinding poverty and that a family of four with a total annual income of under $4,000 a year, having in mind the standard of living in the nation at large, was living in a state of deprivation. I think every member of the house

must realize that here in a country where we have the second highest economic standard of living in the world we have done a terribly poor job of pushing back the frontiers of poverty and want. It is all very well to talk about poverty in the countries of Africa and Asia, but here in Canada 35 per cent of our population are living in a state of deprivation, destitution or poverty.

I do not say this in a political sense at all. I say it simply to bring forward the point I wish to make, and I do not think that anybody with a conscience can quibble with the statistics of the Ontario federation of labour. Any family of four with a total income under $4,000 is certainly living in deprivation, with a total income under $3,000 in poverty and under $2,000 in destitution.

I realize and recognize the fine aspects of the bill as do most members of the house, but let us not for a moment overestimate the effects. We are in fact setting a minimum standard which is within the area of poverty for a family of four with a total income of under $3,000 per year. I hope we recognize this as we are doing it.

The minister recognizes that a family of four, no matter where they are living in Canada, in Newfoundland or Quebec or any of the other provinces, cannot live on a total income of $3,000 unless they are living in poverty. I will say this categorically. Every member recognizes this. We know that in passing this legislation here in Canada we will have done a poor job in pushing back the frontiers of poverty.

I am ready to support this legislation, but I feel also that the arguments put forward by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre should be listened to with great care tonight.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Question, question.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Woolliams:

I hear some members

calling "Question". I know that one of them will be the hon. member for Hamilton West, and one will be the hon. member for Jacques Cartier-Lasalle. They never get up to say anything themselves. I should like to answer the minister. I do not know how the members of my party will vote on this issue, but I know how I feel. However, nobody on this side of the house is criticizing the minister for introducing this kind of legislation. Nobody is criticizing the minister for introducing minimum wage legislation.

However, I say to you that if you are going to legislate to put a floor under wages, and if it is to be of any use to humanity, let us 20220-728

Canada Labour Code

do something worth while. You are really not declaring war on poverty, you are freezing these people in poverty. Hon. members know as well as I do that if we legislate a wage rate of $1.25 there will be a lot of employers in this country who will use it as an excuse and say that is the amount of money these people are going to get. In other words, we are freezing wages. We are freezing these people in poverty. We are not declaring war on poverty.

It is no answer, Mr. Chairman, to say we are doing better than the United States. Is this what this government is going to do? Is this a government that is going to say we are going to implement everything the United States does? Is this your program? I say to you, and to the minister, that is not good enough. I say if we are going to do a job tonight we should take a hard, logical look at the situation. If we are going to have a minimum wage, then let us establish it at $1.50. Let us not freeze it at $1.25. Let us have some flexibility in the bill, Mr. Chairman.

Certain powers have been assigned to the minister. This may be an area in which powers should be assigned to the minister so that the legislation can be made more flexible. Within the last few months, in fact within the last year, the cost of living has increased. When the cost of living is increasing, what is the use in chaining workers to a minimum wage which does not fit that cost of living? I want to be fair to the government. The cost of living has been escalating for some time. In fact, there has been a gradual escalation in the cost of living ever since the last war. Let us face it. I agree with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre that just because he proposed a bill establishing $1.25 as a minimum wage is no reason for establishing that rate today. We should have some flexibility today. If we are going to declare war on poverty, let us do a job.

I know that you have had a hard time getting this measure through cabinet. I believe any minister of labour would have had a hard time selling this measure to any cabinet. The fact is, however, it is not doing the job we want it to do. Perhaps I was a little unkind in some of my remarks, Mr. Chairman, when I said there were politics behind this bill. If you really want to be politicians, then let us set a minimum wage which is reasonable, one upon which the average man can live. Then, I will say you are doing a job in that regard. The argument which has been advanced that the province

Canada Labour Code

of Ontario, Alberta or Saskatchewan has a minimum wage of a certain amount does not answer anything. I suggest to the minister sincerely that I have read the bill. I know its terms, and I know you can enlarge them. However, basically, you are not only setting a minimum wage, you are freezing the hours of work. Many of these pieces of legislation in the provinces allow overtime, and it is by the use of the overtime provision that workers are able to make a living. Instead of limiting these workers to 40 hours per week, what you are doing is imposing on them the necessity of working another 40 hours in order to make a living. In other words, you are really legislating an 80 hour week; let us face it.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Question, question.

Amendment (Mr. Knowles) negatived: Yeas, 27; nays, 84.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

I declare the amendment lost. Shall the clause carry?

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

Mr. Chairman, I would like once again to draw the attention of the house to clause 11 of Bill No. C-126, which constitutes a discrimination against workers in the province of Quebec; in fact, I am surprised that the Quebec Liberal members have nothing to say about that. I ask them to bring pressure to bear on the minister in order that in the third line of that clause, we may read: -14 years and over

-instead of 17 years, so that there be no discrimination against workers in the province of Quebec.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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LIB

Joseph Julien Jean-Pierre Côté

Liberal

Mr. Cote (Longueuil):

Is it only in the province of Quebec that 14 year old children work, or is it the same in all provinces? It must be noted that the preamble reads as follows:

An act respecting hours of work in federal undertakings and businesses.

-and not in all undertakings.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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PC

J.-H.-Théogène Ricard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ricard:

Mr. Chairman, my argument is even more sound since a specific age is mentioned. This means that the present minister has considered all those things and has decided that even in the province of Quebec, where some people have to work as early as 14 years old, the latter are not included and will not be able to earn $1.25 per hour before being 17 years old.

This is what I want to draw to the attention of the house and it is to correct this anomaly that I ask my hon. colleagues from

the province of Quebec to help me do away with this discrimination in regard to Quebec workers.

I am sorry if they do not realize the significance of this measure, but as far as I am concerned, I wish to call the attention of the house to the importance for the workers of the province of Quebec to be treated in the same way as those of other Canadian provinces.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall the clause carry?

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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Clause agreed to. On clause 12-Employees under 17 years of age.


?

Some hon. Members:

Ten o'clock.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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?

Mr. Oiio@

Since I intend to speak on clause 12 with some vehemence, I wonder if I could call it ten o'clock?

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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LIB

George James McIlraith (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

I wonder if the committee would be agreeable to continuing in order that we may make some progress?

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

We think we should continue.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

No, ten o'clock.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Some hon. members have called it ten o'clock.

Progress reported.

Topic:   MEASURE RESPECTING HOURS OF WORK, MINIMUM WAGES, ETC.
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TRANSPORT

February 18, 1965