He who laughs last laughs best -1951. Since that time a number of policies have been decided upon to strengthen Canada's defence resources and measures to combat inflation have been announced. The policy of the government is to prevent war, but in spite of this the danger is still great and ever present. On February 12 the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) had this to say:
Let me hasten to say at once, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure I am not revealing any budgetary secrets, that I do not think we have reached the practical limits of taxation. I intend to budget this year for a fully balanced budget which I think will be the fundamental attack on the problem of inflation.
Referring to the general economic controls at the present time, the minister stated on the same day in- the House of Commons:
I do not believe that a system of over-all price control would be either desirable or effective at this time. Make no mistake about it, one cannot go into this thing for any length of time in a piecemeal manner. Controls on any wide scale will mean control of prices, wages, allocations, and the rest.
He then went on to say:
We know how controls work, we know what their limitations are and we will use them to the full extent that we believe they will be necessary.
With this I go along with the Minister of Finance. It is a sound policy, as is also the part of the program dealing with credit restrictions and instalment buying. The government of the day has increased the down payment on many articles and in my opinion it is for the good of the country as a little more thought will be given by the people in their purchases, thus eliminating, wild spending. That had plenty to do with the trend of things, but I notice the leader of the opposition and the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) have had something to say about this. I give the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar credit for being fair in his remarks. He skated around the all-important matter of prices and wages until he was called to time by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Ferrie). However, taxes as taxes go are not an answer to the problem of bringing down the cost of living. Taxing is a policy which is very harsh and in my opinion is one of the crudest devices to be used by a government on its people to curb inflation. What we need in this country at
the present time are subsidies on the actual necessities of life such as milk, meat and bread until such time as production catches up with consumption.
I should like to show how prices have risen during the period 1944 to 1950, and I wish to refer to the Canadian Statistical Review in order to give the house some idea of the labour trend between 1944 and 1950. On page 34 of the Canadian Statistical Review will be found the average basic wage for different industries in 1944 and 1950, as follows:
77-9 116-4Non-durable goods
60-4 99Meat products
66-2 117-7Leather products
70 112-2Saw and planing mills
58-4 92-1Plant products-edible
52-9 83-4Pulp and paper
72 125-5Leather products
79 112-2Thread, yarn and cloth
48-4 91-9Hosiery and knitted goods
46-1 79-4Garments and furnishings
47-4 100Electrical apparatus
68-6 117-8Steel and iron products
82-1 122-2Crude, rolled and forged products 76-4 129-1
It might be noted that tobacco products are not essential to the people of Canada, but nevertheless the increases in that industry indicate the labour trend. There is no one in this house who can deny that wages have gone up considerably. They say that liars can figure, but figures cannot lie. I should like to give a few comparisons in regard to canned goods which will give the house some idea of what prices were in 1944 and in 1950. Taking 1939 as indicating 100 we have the following prices:
Those figures show that possibly labour has had something to do with the increases which have occurred. Since 1944 wages have increased 38 per cent while the cost of living has increased 35 per cent, according to the latest information we have from the bureau of statistics. Possibly I might say that at this time when there seems to be a shortage of production on the farm it would be proper to try to instil in the minds of many industrial workers the knowledge that the man who works on the farm, especially in the feeding of hogs and looking after livestock, does not have an eight hour day. It might be a good idea if they were to have it instilled in their minds that, in order to bring the cost of living down, by working an hour longer each day and therefore receiving a
bigger pay cheque possibly it would induce the farm boys to stay on the farms a little longer. However, in spite of the fact that most of our C.C.F. friends are always complaining about the cost of living, there is one who actually told the truth here.