March 16, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. A. M. Nicholson (Mackenzie):

Mr. Speaker, I do not plan to spend any time trying to justify a member speaking in support of this motion. Having heard from representatives of a number of urban ridings, I feel that I should be permitted to make some comments without any hon. member suggesting that we cut off the discussion at this time.
Hon. members in all sections of the house have expressed their appreciation of this legislation, and I want to endorse the opinion which has been expressed that the position of ex-service personnel should have continued consideration. Many of the men who joined the services in the period 1939 to 1945 had the misfortune to go through school when there were not as many advantages as there are now. Many of those boys had a pretty rough time during the thirties, and I think they should be able to take advantage of the facilities which have been provided during the past ten or twelve years if they so desire.
Reference has been made to training for the purpose of rehabilitating disabled persons and fitting them for gainful employment. I suppose it may be argued that it is the responsibility of the municipality or the province to provide employment for the disabled, but when polio strikes the country it does not select any particular municipality or province, and victims in all parts of the country are often handicapped for life. Those of us who have enjoyed good health find it most difficult to place ourselves in the position of one who must spend his life in a wheel chair. I think it is quite obvious that it is in the nation's interest that those who are disabled should be given the opportunity to make a useful contribution to society. I feel that the federal government would be only fulfilling its duty in co-operating with the provinces and the municipalities with a view to establishing training projects for the purpose of rehabilitating disabled persons.
I know of one little girl who had the misfortune of being run over by a freight train on her way to school in Yorkton some years
Vocational Training Co-ordination Act ago. She lost both feet, one hand and the fingers of the other hand. Partly as a result of assistance from the Canadian National Railways she was able to complete her public and high school work and became a school teacher. She did an outstanding job in the classroom. I have often felt that having mastered her great misfortune this woman could make an outstanding contribution in helping to train disabled persons. I feel sure that with the co-operation of the minister the program for the future will be improved a good deal.
Reference has been made to training projects to increase the skill or efficiency of persons engaged in agriculture, forestry, mining, fishing, the primary industries in Canada, and in home-making. This brings me to my main reason for rising to speak. I live in a rural community near a town with a population of about 600 at the last census. Under the legislation passed in 1942 the local authorities in co-operation with the province and the federal government provided technical education. For the first time in the history of that rural community boys were permitted to work in the shops. They received expert training in woodworking and shopwork, and it has given the boys a new interest in education. This town of 600 has a school attendance of nearly 300. A dormitory has been built where some 80 boys and girls are able to live while away from home. Three buses bring students to the school every morning and take them home at night. Certainly I believe it increases the effectiveness of the nation as a whole when you have available in rural communities the kind of services I have been describing, and which exist at Sturgis where I live. I am sure if more rural communities could have the assistance of the local, provincial and federal authorities in participating in projects of this kind there would be a much keener interest in providing greater security for all our people.
I am not overlooking the reference to home-making. In this connection it may be argued that the task of providing girls with training in home-making should be left to mothers, but each year in our school we have an achievement day when the teachers demonstrate what has been accomplished in the school, and when the young lads demonstrate the type of work they have been doing. The girls taking home economics show what can be produced in the kitchen and in the dressmaking shops, and rather than resent the fact that training is given in homemaking the parents appreciate that in the middle of this century our young people in
Vocational Training Co-ordination Act rural communities are given access to facilities which have been taken for granted for so many years in the large cities.
Representing a rural community as I do I am very glad that this legislation was passed in 1942, and that the minister is piloting this bill through the house so that we may have a continuation and extension of this outstanding work.
Mr. J. W. Nose worthy (York South): Mr. Speaker, I have examined this bill and certainly I cannot see anything in it to which one could take objection. Indeed there are quite a number of features which are quite commendable. I am certain the minister and his department are to be commended on the insertion of a provision which will provide training and rehabilitation of the disabled. That is a measure to which we have been looking forward for a long time. While on this question of the rehabilitation of the disabled I would like to suggest to the minister that some consideration be given to the older people, such as old age pensioners and those receiving old age assistance. There are thousands of older people who have many years of usefulness ahead of them and who are finding life very boring.
The administrators of the various hospitals under the Department of Veterans Affairs carry out a considerable amount of adult education among the older veterans by training in craft work and in developing hobbies. Many of them are able to eke out a little additional money through the medium of the things they make in these hospitals. I have often wondered whether through some department of the federal government, possibly in co-operation with the provinces or local authorities, some means could not be found whereby some of these older people could be induced to participate in craft work, and some provisions could also be made for the disposal of the things they might thereby produce in such a way that these old people would be able to obtain some remuneration for their work.
In this connection we must realize that within a few years probably one-third of our population will have to support the remaining two-thirds, the younger people at one end of the scale and people over 50 or 55 years of age at the other. If industry continues the present practice of letting employees out at the age of 50, 55 or even 60, we are going to have a great many people in that age group quite capable of working but without any opportunity to do so.

I believe England has tackled that problem through what is known as sheltered workshops, where older people are given an opportunity to work during hours which are suitable to them, and where they are encouraged and assisted to undertake craft work through which they produce certain articles. Under that scheme some provision is made for the sale of these articles. That is one phase of adult education to which we have given very little consideration in this country, and it is one which I believe should be given some consideration at the present time.
The hon. member for Cape Breton South brought up the question of trade schools as contrasted with our secondary vocational schools. On the basis of my own experience with vocational guidance officers and teachers I am inclined to believe that employers in this country do not favour the employment of youths who have had no training other than the training for the job. My experience has been that employers approve of youths having a fairly high academic standard. They feel that if a youth is given a fairly good academic grounding he is a much more valuable employee in a shop or a factory, and I would be loath to see our youth encouraged to specialize in any particular field at a very early age without having a good academic training.
There can be no question but that we need more trade schools for our youth. The regular secondary vocational schools do not attempt to turn out skilled mechanics. That is not their purpose. They try to give the youth a certain amount of academic training, and the fundamentals of the particular trade or trades in which he is interested. Unquestionably there is a need for what may be considered finishing trade schools where those who have received a foundation training in our secondary vocational schools, or even in our secondary academic schools, can obtain a much more specialized trade training than is available in our regular schools at the present time.
One question raised by the hon. member for Cape Breton South is certainly worthy of consideration by the committee to which this bill will be referred, and worthy of consideration by the Department of Labour. I notice that all the assistance to the provinces in connection with vocational training is offered on a 50-50 basis, and that the federal government's contribution must not exceed that made by the province. I think that time has come when we must face up to the fact that the 50-50 rule no longer meets the needs of Canada today. With the difference in wealth that exists as between provinces the time has come when we should consider

doing, in the case of these federal grants, what practically every provincial government in the country has had to do in relation to the municipalities, namely to place these grants on the basis of need. Some formula is required whereby those provinces that are in the greatest need will receive a larger share of the cost of educational activities than will the wealthier provinces.
I realize as much as anyone the difficulties that will confront any minister who puts that kind of proposition to some of the provinces of Canada. However, I think a basic fact that must be remembered is that Nova Scotia is not training young people for Nova Scotia; Nova Scotia is training young people for Canada. Today a high percentage of the youth who are trained in any one province are likely to spend the greater part of their lifetime in a province other than that in which they were born. I think we must be able to look at this question of federal grants to vocational education from the broad national point of view. We are trying to train Canadian citizens, and these grants should be administered in such a way that Canadians whether born in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or British Columbia will be given some reasonable equality of educational opportunity in so far as these federal grants are concerned.
That may be a step worth discussing at some federal-provincial conference. It is certainly one that we should be ready to face by this time. Every provincial government has had to face up to that problem in its relations with the municipalities. There was a time when provincial governments paid their educational grants on a per capita basis but, so far as I know, that is no longer the case in any of our provinces. Today the provincial governments try to adjust their educational grants on the basis of need. The poorer communities in the province may receive, as they do in Ontario, close to 100 per cent of their educational costs, whereas other wealthier municipalities receive as little as 30 per cent.
I think that is a question which should be faced on the federal-provincial level, and that instead of going on indefinitely apportioning all these grants on a 50-50 basis a beginning should be made in doing it in terms of Canadians as Canadians and not as citizens of any particular province.

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