April 16, 1947 (20th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)


Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

Yesterday the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) stated there
Labour Conditions

were 2,200 unemployed veterans of world war II in Cape Breton, and that these men would be prepared to move to employment found for them in other parts of Canada if transportation were provided. As this point now has been raised perhaps it would be helpful if I gave the house the facts regarding a programme, such as that now suggested, which has been in progress since early this year. That is why I made the statement I did1 yesterday.
The national employment service of the department initiated a programme some months ago in Cape Breton and other parts of Nova Scotia to encourage the movement of unemployed persons to steady employment outside Nova Scotia. Unemployed persons registered in the employment offices in these areas, with particular emphasis on Cape Breton, were interviewed weeks ago to find out whether they were prepared to take employment offered elsewhere. They were advised that transportation would be provided to the place of employment. Unemployed workers not then registered were invited to do so through wide publicity. The type of work offered was in construction and mining operations in Ontario. It is to be understood that no pressure was placed upon the applicants; they were invited to go voluntarily. Those who refused were not later denied unemployment benefit payments by reason of their refusal.
The interviews were first undertaken at Cape Breton, but as the number in that area who were interested in and capable of taking employment was limited the programme was extended to other parts of the province. Of a total of 2,000 men interviewed in Nova Scotia, including 1,200 in Cape Breton, about 700 were found willing to take employment elsewhere, and were apparently qualified for the work offering. Of those 700 about 500 passed the first medical examination, but only 266 passed the X-ray tests which were necessary for mining employment. As my hon. friend knows, in hard rock mining the medical examination is somewhat severe. Nearly^ 170 failed to complete their medical examinations. Of those medically examined, between 250 and 300 have been dispatched to other employment in central Canada, the majority of the men coming from the Sydney area. At the present time orders are being secured in other lines for unemployed persons in the Cape Breton area who are unable to qualify for jobs in the hard rock mines but who are willing to take work outside Nova Scotia.

The employment service advise that there are now 350 steady positions in Ontario available to the unemployed in the area referred to, with additional orders being received daily. The prospect is that there will be a substantial number of employment vacancies in central Canada which cannot be filled locally. The department has been paying transportation expenses in all cases, as well as the cost of medical examinations. I would think that in the circumstances many of the men to whom my hon. friend referred may have been interviewed already, but where men are not registered but are willing to take jobs elsewhere the first requisite is to register with the nearest employment office.
I think it will be recognized that one of the practical difficulties has been a disinclination on the part of many men-perhaps a natural one-to leave their present place of residence. Housing, of course, is a problem in regard to these movements. In consequence of housing difficulties, employment opportunities available at the moment are for single men, or for men willing to take the jobs and to await the removal of their families until accommodation can be found at their new location.
I need only add that in transferring men from Nova Scotia we are not overlooking the interest of workers in the locality where the labour demands to which I have referred exist. These are employment opportunities for which we have not been able to locate men in the vicinity of the work.

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