May 23, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)



The camps were opened about the middle of October and were closed on April 30. This has been the practice followed in previous years. This project was designed rather as a winter relief project for single homeless men. Some portion of the pay of these men was deferred and made payable to them in the form of post office vouchers after their employment in the camps had ended. Some 4,700 men were sheltered in the camps during the past winter months, which is somewhat less than the number sheltered in similar camps during the previous year. While the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) was speaking I indicated that the Department of Labour in British Columbia had kept an accurate record of the

Unemployed, Men in Vancouver
men who had passed through these forestry camps. It is a matter of some significance that 2,500 of the men who were in the camps in the previous year did not return this year. Clearly they have either found employment in British Columbia or returned to their homes in other parts of Canada.
I should like to make this point clear. Nothing has been said here this afternoon which would suggest in any way that this government has been indifferent to this special problem. As a matter of fact I am quite sure that I can convince hon. members on all sides of this house that we have dealt with this special problem in a sound and constructive wray. Some time ago we had these large concentrations of single unemployed men in all the cities across this country. You do not find that to-day. During the past year it was only necessary to establish special projects to deal with this problem in the prairie provinces and in British Columbia. In the prairie provinces we used a farm employment plan under which some 45,000 men were placed during the winter months. I have not the actual figures before me, but I want to say that a gratifying proportion of these men have been enabled to remain in farm employment after the government bonus was withdrawn. Some little while ago the mayor of Regina stated that it was apparent that many of these men were remaining with the farmers who had employed them upon the basis of their receiving wages from the crop expected this autumn. The special payments to these men and to the farmers ceased on April 30. Only the other day I received a statement from the Minister of Labour of Manitoba to the effect that just under 3,000 of the young men who had been placed with farmers during the winter months had made wage contracts with those farmers and are to remain in their employ. Our information, which is based upon authoritative grounds, is that the problem of the single unemployed men in the cities of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is less acute this year than it has been for many years.
Under the plan which gave single men employment in forestry conservation camps in British Columbia we created what might be termed preferred conditions in that province. I am not quarrelling with what was done, but the fact is that we paid the prevailing rates of wages, which was much more than was received by the men working under the farm employment plan in the prairie provinces. In the very nature of things this became known throughout the
I Mr. Rogers.]
prairie provinces and we had a certain movement, particularly from the drought areas and the cities of western Canada, to British Columbia in order that the higher wages might be received in the forestry camps. As I have said, we closed the camps this year in substantially the same manner as they had been closed in other years. They were not continued through the summer months in other years. When the camps were closed the men had deferred vouchers coming to them for a period of weeks.

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