March 19, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Adamson:

After listening to the detailed report by the minister, Mr. Chairman, and, unfortunately, having read only the report for the previous year, I believe one could say to one's self, "lucky, lucky Canadians." I have practised my profession practically all over the world, with the exception of east Asia. When the minister of mines in any country can bring down a report of such developments as we have seen take place in the short span of one year, that country is indeed fortunate.
I realize that possibly it is wise in a political discussion to try to prove that we are perhaps not as fortunate as we are. In so far as this department is concerned, I disagree with that philosophy. Without question, we in Canada are the luckiest people in the world so far as our natural resources are concerned. I hope that no member in this house and I hope that no Canadian, will ever forget that, because upon that depends our essential prosperity.
The next point I wish to mention with regard to this department is that I want to pay tribute to the working force of the department, the engineers, the geologists, the metallurgists and the scientists generally who have made this development possible. A lot of people seem to think that you go out and discover oil wells or ore bodies or when you have discovered the oil well or the ore body, the method of milling and refining or separating the metal from the rock is a comparatively simple matter. May I say that without the skilled help of the technical people in this department, a great deal of this amazing development would have been quite impossible.
I would say that the majority of these devoted scientists who are working for Canada are working for a monetary return well below that which they could demand in private industry. I am not going into detail or to mention any names, but on frequent occasions I have known people who have been offered by private industry a multiple of the salary they were getting with the department, but who have refused it and remained in the service of Canada. This is something for which we and the Canadian
people must at all times be extremely grateful. Without these devoted servants, a great deal of this development would not be possible.
I should like now to mention the working force in the industry. While the minister was reading his report, I made a little calculation. The working force in the mineral industry in Canada amounts to 128,500. It is generally estimated that for every man working in the mineral industry there are four others dependent on that industry. The mineral industry is, therefore, responsible for no less than 514,000 other jobs, directly. I believe the department of mines in the United States has a further figure showing that those indirectly dependent upon the minerals industry are at a ratio of eleven to one. So that no less than approximately 1,400,000 of the total working force in Canada are indirectly responsible to the mineral industry. The wages paid to those men amounted to $435 million, which works out to an average annual wage of no less than $3,400-figuring to the closest hundred dollars.
I mention this because here is an industry in which those engaged in it are, in the majority of cases, receiving annual wages away above the normal in Canada. That is something I suggest we should take into consideration. Some of these people may be directors or engineers, but their number would be small compared with the remaining workers. So that the figure of $3,400 is, I think, a reasonably accurate one.
The other day, in discussing the housing legislation, we were worried because so many of the working force in Canada are receiving wages less than the minimum required to participate in the benefits of that legislation. Here we are discussing an industry the average wage in which is at least $500 above the minimum required to participate in the legislation passed last week. I mention that only to indicate what the industry means to Canada.
I come to my next point which, I suggest, is also significant. I refer to the cost of the department expressed as a percentage of the value of total mineral production. That total mineral production last year of $1,331 million was up $46 million from the previous year which, in turn, was up $40 million from the year preceding. The cost of the department, less $15 million for the Emergency Gold Mining Assistance Act, and the coal board which cannot be charged legitimately as an expense against the department, amounted to $16 -6 million. In other words, in the last year the ratio of the cost of the department to the value of total mineral production was 1-23 per cent.
Supply-Mines and Technical Surveys
I mention that figure merely to emphasize the efficient work being done by the engineers and technicians in the department. The cost of survey work, the work of the mines branch, mapping and geological work came to something less than 1J per cent of the value of total production last year, which I stated earlier as about one and a third billions of dollars.
At this point I would say that while I have not the figures for the United Kingdom before me the last year for which I saw those figures indicated that the expenditures by the United Kingdom on geological survey was greater than those in Canada for the same purpose. These figures are not absolutely comparable, because they include some things that our figures do not include, and there are some discrepancies. Yet, the United Kingdom which, we consider, is geologically poor, a country the geological formations of which are chiefly concerned with coal and iron, including a comparatively small amount of other minerals, considers the work of geological survey so important that their expenditures for that purpose are greater than ours in Canada.
If our production increases at the same rate in the next decade-and I think there is every reason to believe it will, unless world markets are completely destroyed- Canadian mineral production will exceed $4 billion a year, an amount considerably greater than the gross national product before the war. I mention this only to show the extraordinary growth taking place in this country. It is something that challenges the imagination of every Canadian. We have to stop and think about it to realize what it means to us in Canada, what it means in the matter of increased population, what it means in connection with finding new capital, and what it demands in the way of improving our methods of extraction and of discovery, and all those other technical procedures with which the mines branch has to deal. So much for that phase of the matter.
I should like now to deal with one or two of the individual items of expenditure by some of the companies. According to its last report, the International Nickel Company has spent over $150 million in the last two years. According to the minister's statement, expenditures running to hundreds of millions of dollars are already under way, by the nickel industry as a whole. Thus we have one metal where hundreds of millions of dollars are being expended for its future development at the present time.
I ask any hon. member this question. The minister comes tonight with estimates for the expenditure of $27 million. If there was

a policy of nationalization of the mines in Canada, what would any elected assembly do if a minister of mines and technical surveys came down to the house and said: "I want hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars for the development of nickel"? Why, no government under our method of accounting would dream of accepting such a statement; and yet, if we had nationalization of the mining industry, without the expenditure of those hundreds of millions of dollars, the industry could not prosper and increase the way it has been. I mention that just as an example to show the fallacy of any program of nationalization of the mining industry.
I shall give another example. I have not the figures in front of me of the amount that was spent last year, and the minister will correct me if I am wrong, but something like $320 million was spent in the exploration and development of petroleum products.

Full View