September 2, 1950 (21st Parliament, 3rd Session)


Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Those prices have gone up, stimulated largely by the great United States demand for lumber, although on the whole there has been a relatively slight increase in the cost of operation of such companies and the manufacture of the lumber. Owing to the
The Address-Mr. Herridge increase in freight rates the cost of transportation has gone up, as we all know. That is reflected in the cost of living of the average person. What about telephone service? I have not the figures for British Columbia, but I have the Financial Post and I shall read the figures for Ontario. In Ontario the cost of long distance telephone calls has been increased by 20 per cent in recent months. Ontario local telephone calls have been increased by 10 per cent, and so we go on.
I have mentioned a few of the basic essentials in the cost of living, food, furniture, clothing, housing and transportation. All these have shown rapid increases. What is the result? It results not only in economic instability but also in psychological instability. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, democracy cannot function and develop satisfactorily unless it operates in an atmosphere of relative security. In a period of insecurity an opportunity is provided to extremes of the right or left to appeal to the people suffering under such circumstances. The greatest necessity for democracy is at least a relative measure of security for the great mass of the population of the country.
What effect has this had on the working people? Union contracts are made for a year, some for two years, and in some cases as much as from three to five years. How can you expect labour stability, how can you expect labour peace when within the last three or four or five months-six months at the most-we have had these increases in the basic cost of living? Look at the insecurity of the average wage earner. Look at the insecurity of everybody in this country, wage earners, business people and others. Some contractors today are bidding exorbitant amounts for construction jobs because they are not quite certain what the cost of materials is going to be. I know one contractor who bid $36,000 for the construction of a wharf in my constituency on the basis of purchasing his lumber last April at $45 a thousand. Mind you, piling and timber products compose the greater portion of the materials used in the construction of wharves in a district such as mine. If he proceeds with the contract under present prices he may lose thousands of dollars.
That situation is permeating our whole economy. There is the position of the wage earner, the small businessman, the contractor, and all those people who are taking part in the development of the country. What about the old age pensioners? Last session we were talking about $50 a month for old age pensioners. The increases that have taken place already in the cost of living would have wiped out the advantage that the extra

The Address-Mr. J. G. L. Langlois $10 would have given them. What about the disability pensioners who received an increase of 25 per cent a year or two ago? Look at the increase in the cost of living. What about war veterans allowance? Surely parliament could do something about that in view of the increasing cost of living. What about industrial pensions? Many people have retired on small pensions that were bought with dollars that, twenty, thirty or forty years ago, purchased three to five times as much as dollars do today. What about those who have retired on annuities, the many little people living on fixed incomes of various types?
It is a most serious situation, Mr. Speaker. There is no question about it. Whether or not we like the suggestion of controls and regulations, if our economy is to remain on a democratic basis, if we are going to have the necessary measure of stability in the country, both economic and psychological, it is absolutely necessary that the government give immediate and serious attention to invoking a measure of price control and subsidies. Again I say that time has proven our policy correct in this respect. In the interests of the Canadian people as a whole,
I trust what are now, I am sure, the repentant Liberals and Progressive Conservatives will support the amendment to the amendment when the vote is taken.

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