On that point, may I say that this government has been aware of that situation from the time it came into office. The very first action we took with respect to unemployment was to increase grants in aid to the provinces by seventy-five per cent in order to assist the municipalities. Not only that, but in the order in council providing for that increase we provided that the increase should be passed over to the municipalities; and, by a series of measures which I shall detail later, we have given assistance in other forms to municipalities. More recently it has been announced that pending the final determination of this difficult problem we as a dominion government are ready to assume, along with the provinces, forty per cent of the total cost of material aid.
If that proposal is accepted by the provinces in the terms in which it was made, it will mean that the municipalities will not be required to pay more than twenty per cent of the cost of material aid, and I suggest to my hon. friend, on the basis of the figures which we have obtained and with which I think he is familiar, that this twenty per cent would not represent more than a proportion of the total problem which might be described as that of unemployables and indigent cases. Certainly, from the figures I have obtained from the provinces, that would appear to be a fair inference, that twenty per cent of the total cost of material aid would represent just about the cost of maintaining unemployables and indigents.
The municipalities that have had their difficulties in recent years have not experienced those difficulties simply because they have been called upon to pay a particular percentage of the current costs of material aid. The municipalities that have suffered most have done so because of the cumulative effect of funding relief costs over a period of years, and that I submit to my hon. friend is not a question which can be dealt with as a matter of policy by the dominion government. It is a question which can be submitted properly to any general review of dominion-provincial
relations, and I believe it has been so submitted to the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations on behalf of the Canadian municipalities.
Subtopic: UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES