They even got shut out when they wanted to come inside. That is something I never thought we would see in the House of Commons. I guess that is when the farmers learned pretty well where they stand with these fellows across the aisle. Later on they did get some adjustment in the dairy farm situation. Returns for milk improved to a certain extent, but just enough to cover extra costs of production. With every single thing he produces, the cost situation as it affects the farmer grows worse. I think the minister knows this. He lives in a part of the country where costs have risen just as quickly as anywhere else, and where prices received by farmers have failed to keep pace.
The market is not organized as it might be. One province tries to organize a little, then it runs into imports from other provinces and says: What the heck, we might as well forget about it. More assistance might be provided for a national marketing scheme if the government were interested in doing anything like that. I cannot see how this minister, knowing what he knows, can stand up in his place and say in effect that the farmer has never had it so good. It is simply not true. Maybe members of the cabinet have never had it so good, but that does not apply to the farmers of this country.
[DOT] (9:40 p.m.)
Farmers are caught in a tremendous cost-price squeeze, more so than they were even back in the 1950's. The little changes in the price of wheat that the minister has mentioned have not kept pace with farmers' costs. It does not matter what farmers produce, be it livestock or wheat, their costs have increased, while the prices of their products have either remained stationary or in some cases have gone down. However, everything they have to buy has soared in price. Hog prices, cattle, farm prices in general have gone down, including the prices of eggs and poultry. But the price of prepared feed, of farm implements, gasoline and all the other necessities has almost doubled within the last few years. On top of this the retail price of farm products to the consumer has gone up something fabulously. The consumer price index has increased by about 50 per cent since 1951, but the farmer is still selling his produce at the same price. It should be remembered that the farmer is also one of the consumers.
The farmer, along with the miner, fisherman, lumberman and labourer is one of the basic producers of the country, and as a food producer he is probably the most important economic unit in the nation. Yet when a situation arises in which he should be in a position to show a profit after the lean years, what happens? The implement manufacturers raise their prices. The food retailers raise their prices. But they don't give the farmer anything more for what he produces. They do, however, charge him more for what he consumes. The feed manufacturers raise their prices, but what the farmer gets stays the same. How can anybody honestly say that the farmer never had it so good? It seems that everybody in this country goes all out to
March 4, 1868
gouge the man whose production is the very basis of economic prosperity.
This is the classic pattern. The government pays no attention to what is happening to the farmer, because it feels that with the drop in farm population it can get along without the farmers' votes. Mr. Chairman, I suggest this government is going to find out how wrong it is in that theory at the next election.
The farmer has not been able to organize. Until recently he did not have a union. When automobile workers feel that they are being stepped on they all get together and pull a strike. The farmer does not do this; he is not organized to that extent. But in recent years he has become much more organized, and those who are growing rich by buying the farmer's product cheap and selling it back to him and others at a high price, may find that when the farmer finally decides it is necessary to be organized he, the farmer, may be a lot tougher than many labour unions.
The government has taken very little action to help the farmers. It even locked them out when they came to parliament hill. These farmers are not going to put up with that kind of treatment too long from a bunch of people who are elected. Occasionally these people seem to forget that they are elected. The farmers are not going to sit around and put up with the importation of $6 million worth of eggs, as happened last year. We had 9 million dozen eggs imported from the United States of America and 50,000 dozen from Australia. That is how the government treats the Canadian egg producer. We had the importation of over $700,000 worth of dried eggs and $1 million worth of egg products, including egg yolks, from other countries. We imported 112,000 pounds of dried eggs from Poland. What does this do to help our Canadian producers?
In the first ten months of 1967 we had over
4.000 pounds of butter imported from East Germany, 58,000 pounds from Belgium, and
22.000 pounds from New Zealand. Last year more than $7 million worth of cheese was imported. What does this do for the Canadian dairy farmer? In the first ten months of 1967 we had a lot of turkeys imported from the United States, yet we can raise all the turkeys in this country that Canadians can eat. They don't have to come from any other place.
It is all right for the minister to give a rosy picture of the Canadian farm situation. The government seems to look at the problem in light of the fact that there will be fewer
farmers on the land to vote against it, and it feels that this is a good trend. Some 12,000 farms have disappeared in Ontario since 1961. That is how serious the situation is. I think we will have to make up our minds as a nation whether farming is to become strictly a business or whether it can continue as a way of life for a great many Canadians who know no other way to live, and who do not want to join the unemployed in the big cities. That is what we will have to decide in working out farm policies, and that is the decision the government has refused to face.
We will have to help the successful farmer to stay successful, because we must have what he produces. At the same time we will have to take steps to make it possible for farming to continue as a way of life for those who wish to carry it on, because we need a continuing supply of food producers in this nation.
An article in the December issue of the Canadian Geographical Journal, by D. F. Symington, deals with the question of rural problems and describes the kind of government policies, aimed at regional improvement, which should be applied but which are not being applied at the present time. I quote as follows:
The 1961 passage of the ARDA legislation encouraged governments not only to admit, but to proclaim the reality of serious rural economic dislocation. Since then statistics on rural hardship have been widely quoted. Based mainly on analyses of the 1961 census, the figures indicate that of the Canadian total of 481,000 farms, 209,000 have gross annual sales of less than $3,750.
That is astounding. These people, along with their families, comprise a formidable corps scattered throughout Ontario; yet of its total of 120,000 farms some 50,000 sell less than $2,500 worth of products per year. The article continues.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers throughout Canada have been forced out of business by the price-controlling effect of vastly more efficient agricultural production. Huge productive capability in western Canada resulted from wartime mechanization applied to vast level and generally fertile lands. Application of large-scale capital investment to chicken, egg, milk, beef and other areas of production throughout Canada resulted in penalties for those who could not or did not employ enough capital.
In my opinion it was mostly "could not."
National policy, and the provincial policies with which it must be coherent, is not simple to work out. The key, in Canada at least, is probably in setting up a viable framework for regional development, to provide full rein to the real potentials of each region.
March 4, 1968
[DOT] (9:50 p.m.)
This involves flexible tax arrangements between the federal and provincial governments; it involves decentralization of federal administration, with considerable changes in the federal departmental framework; it involves introduction of new technologies and new approaches to research and data collection; it involves education, manpower mobility and industrial development programs much more dynamic and coherent than are at present in effect. In sum, regional development demands sensitive and intelligent consideration of the natural resources, the market potentials, and the attitudes, skills and potentials of the people.
A recent United States report establishes that rural failures often become a factor in respect of city unemployment figures. There is absolutely no advantage in removing people from the farms and bringing them into the city as unemployment or welfare charges. A presidential advisory commission in the United States has urged full employment and prosperity for the rural people even if, as reported in the New York Times for December 10, the government has to provide the jobs to end what the panel calls a national disgrace. A similar situation exists in Canada where ARDA programs, idealistic in concept, have been reduced to ineffectiveness by administrative bumbling, as revealed in recent reports. The President's national advisory commission on rural hardship in the United States calls for equality of opportunity in rural areas in regard to housing, jobs, education and welfare. The report of the commission states that the need is even greater in rural than in urban areas. It urges that this need be given priority in legislation and appropriations.
What about the situation in Canada? There has been criticism with regard to soil and water conservation programs carried on under ARDA. The ARDA concept was and is a good one. It is an encouragement to the farmer to stay on the land and arrest the drift to the city that has become a flood. Recent reports by the economic council reveal that the administration of ARDA is not carrying out the original principles upon which ARDA was based. It says that 500,000 rural families are suffering hardships. ARDA funds are being dissipated in unrealistic projects-the "blueberry patch" approach. This is administrative weakness and does not carry out the original ideals. In effect the report of the economic council emphasizes concentration on human resources rather than physical resources, although the latter is not outlawed as a supplementary aid. The report talks about "out migration" from rural to urban communities, which it regards as a partial
solution to the problem. If the problem could be solved in that way, it is well on its way to solution.
It is very difficult to see any solution in the putting forward of government policy to assist what is going on, and will continue to go on even if no policies at all are put forward. What is required at this point, in the light of all the information, the numerous studies, and the enormous amount of money that has been spent, is a decision by the government, or rather by the nation. What is our policy as a nation in the face of rural hardship? We must as a nation decide whether we consider it important to retain a rural population on the land, halt the exodus, put an end to economic and social attrition, and stop the hopeless drift away from the farms and villages. Some people feel that such a decision cannot be economical. The cost of sustaining those who have problems is not greatly altered by their transfer from a country to a city environment. There is also the social question of whether or not we can afford to make the effort, in view of the growing chaos of underprivileged metropolitanism. Such waste is self-perpetuating and multiplies from generation to generation. Rather than add to the problems of urbanism, there is a decided social and economic advantage in dealing with the rural people in the rural area where they are at home, and which they know best.
If successful, programs designed to this end will produce decided benefits such as stability, social balance, dividends in terms of health, lower delinquency and reduced welfare in the cities. Those who are subject to this form of economic attrition have not been able to resist the lure of urban benefits and higher incomes. They have drifted in from the rural areas, seeking higher incomes in the cities. In some cases they have found them; in other cases the improvement has been temporary, since they have found themselves unable to adjust and have been forced to go on to the welfare and unemployment lists. This of course is no solution, and simply adds to the misery and congestion of already overcrowded city areas. If we are to maintain a progressive society we cannot afford to have within our midst growing pockets of hardship. The attempts over the years by various governments in Canada and the United States are an illustration of the general acceptance of the concept of equality of opportunity for all. We have within our midst "have not" Canadians; we have underdeveloped regions which need help as much as do the underdeveloped nations.
March 4, 1968
Business of the House
As an indication of how bad the situation is, I might mention it has been brought to my attention that a Liberal from the other place has written an editorial on his subject, after bringing in a bill. It seems to me that if this is something which can awaken a Liberal senator, then it is indeed an indication that things are very, very bad. Twelve thousand pounds of milk is the production from only two cows. In Huron county I do not suppose anyone is milking only two cows, but I am given to understand that this is the situation in some areas through the country. I believe another look should be taken at this policy. May I call it ten o'clock, Mr. Chairman.
Subtopic: PROPOSED INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CENTRE