December 9, 1909 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Hugh Guthrie


Mr. HUGH GUTHRIE (South Wellington).

This is a public Bill which will have a very direct influence on a very large number of people in this country should it become law, and while, generally ' speaking, I am in favour of any proposal tending to shorten the hours of labour. I am afraid that my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) has gone rather far in the measure he has introduced. During the past four or five years I have given this matter much consideration. I have discussed it to some extent with various representative bodies in my riding; and so far as the Bill is limited in its application to public works, in the strictest sense of the term-the erection of buildings or works of that nature-I think we might fairly give the system a trial and see what would be its effects. It would practically apply only to the building trades. I cannot see that any great harm would follow. In the city of Guelph where I reside, in all the building trades now they have the nine hour day. It is not so many years since they had the ten hour day, and the nine hour day has come about without legislation, and I do not think that it has injuriously affected the hours of labour in the factories or on the farms in that county. In that respect I do not think the Bill will have any such effect as my hon. friend fears, but as has been pointed out by the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell), it goes much further than government contracts and will embrace every kind of contract. One can well understand what difficulty would be created should the Bill pass in its present form. Take a contract for the supply of clothing or furniture to the government. A manufacturer tenders and is awarded the contract. That contract will not occupy his whole staff, probably only a small portion, and, under this Bilk that contractor would have one portion of his men working eight hours and another nine or ten hours. I can see difficulties of that kind, but I would like to see the Bill

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