April 9, 1951 (21st Parliament, 4th Session)


John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott


Mr. Sinnott:

Here is something from a man with whom the leader of the opposition was quite familiar not too long ago. I refer to the Ontario minister of agriculture, Mr. Kennedy. This is what he has to say:
The retailer and distributor get anywhere up to '8 per cent of the price the consumer pays for fruit and vegetables . . .
Bear in mind that the retailer and distributor get anywhere up to 78 per cent of what :he consumer pays.
-while the farmer who raised the food gets the short half of what it brings. Hon. T. L. Kennedy, Ontario minister of agi-iculture, disclosed yesterday. "We are determined to bring into proper proportion the ratio between what the farmer receives for his product and what he has to pay for non-agricultural products," Mr. Kennedy declared. Some change may' be made when the Ontario food terminal market in Etobicoke is opened, he hinted. He said an investigation made at his request in Toronto, November 2, showed certain farmers received 59 per cent of the retail price of their cabbages, 42 per cent on carrots, 22 per cent on celery and 42-59 per cent on potatoes.
Cost of Living
That goes to show that a large portion of what is received for the farmer's produce goes to the middleman. The government should make some effort to see that the consumer is not robbed in this regard. I have several clippings along the same line. They all indicate that the spread between the producer and the consumer is far too much. As the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) said, many of these boys have been all set for a long time. No wonder it is hard to get farm help after reviewing these reports. Farm boys and girls by the thousand are lured away from the farms to labour in other fields.
I am given to understand that the labour force on the farms at the present time in the whole of Canada is only 18-7 per cent while 26 per cent are in manufacturing and the balance in basic industries. This will give an idea of how difficult it is for farmers to secure competent help. Eighty-two per cent of the labour force over the period of years have demanded more and more wages with the net result that the rise in the cost of living is what it is today. The house which labour has built is now falling around their very own heads. I am very sympathetic to labour and had to work hard myself before coming to this house. Back in 1926- and this is not a laughing matter-I cut pulpwood for $1.85 a cord, built my own camp, cut spruce boughs for my bed, dug my well, hauled in all my supplies seven miles from a railroad on a toboggan I constructed myself, did my own cooking and lived on 50 cents a day. That should be enough to indicate that I have had something to do with hard work. I also recall the days of the 1930's when we milked cows, shipped cream to the city of Winnipeg and received $1.65 for five gallons of cream testing 38 per cent butterfat.

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