April 11, 1945 (19th Parliament, 6th Session)

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

No; if the minister wants to make that statement, it is perfectly all right with me. My remarks and his will be on the record and will be read with interest by the members of the delegation-there were five of us-who were in his office and know what was said. The whole purpose of the visit of that delegation was to try to get the assurance that something definite would be done. Other members of the delegation, the aircraft workers themselves, said to the minister: "Can we be assured that this new work will be placed in time to prevent the lay-offs now taking place?" The minister's reply to that was that the full effect might not be felt until June. He went on to say that the government was not the kind of government that would tell a private company what they should do, but that if he were manager of the plant and knew of the contracts that were coming there would not be any lay-offs.
The fact of the matter is that lay-offs have continued. The members of that delegation went back to Winnipeg in early February quite happy as a result of their interview with the minister, and they assured the workers in the plant where they are engaged and the members of the union with which they are associated that the minister had the matter
in hand, and that while there might be some temporary dislocation, there was nothing to worry about in the long run. However, despite that, lay-offs are still continuing.
I have a letter in my hand from Mr. Frank Murphy, the business agent of Spitfire Lodge, No. 741, International Association of Machinists, written after the minister made his reply to my question on the orders of the day last Thursday, in which the business agent tells me that a total of a thousand workers were laid off at MacDonald's in February and March and that there are now only about five hundred employees left at the airport compared with a figure of 3,500 when employment at MacDonald Brothers was at its peak.
This is not the first time, nor was the occasion, January 31 and February 1, the first time that I have discussed the matter of employment at Winnipeg with the Minister of Munitions and Supply and also with the Minister of Labour. It is a matter I have had occasion to discuss ever since I came to this house, and I feel that I must point out to the government that the treatment which we get from the two ministers falls into a well defined pattern. When we ask on behalf of Winnipeg for the placing of war contracts there to provide employment we are frequently told that the government cannot be asked to produce war materials that are not needed just for the sake of providing employment. That is a perfectly logical statement to make, provided that we did not get other kinds of replies when other questions are asked. But when we ask, on the other hand, as we have in recent months of the Minister of Munitions and Supply, who is also Minister of Reconstruction, that he start a reconversion programme in such a plant as MacDonald Brothers at Winnipeg, the minister tells us that there is a war on and that this is no time for the consideration of such matters.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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