June 4, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Oh, no, I am going to place it on the table. The average profit that the refineries had last year was one-fifth of a cent per pound. Of course there was a very large amount refined, and it amounts to a large sum in the aggregate, but it was only one-fifth of a cent per pound on the average.
I have another of these questionnaires which was sent out to wholesale men. I do not propose to read it. The answers are given here and the actual affidavit is here. If there was any suspicious circumstance or anything set forth in the affidavit .or in the replies that did not seem perfectly satisfactory, we corresponded with the parties until we had what we considered a satisfactory answer, and the net result is that the refineries last year made one-fifth of a cent per pound on sugar, although the price was much higher than it had been a few years

ago. I think the last price was 8# cents wholesale, and the reasons I have given fairly explains this price. The principal item in the cost of refined sugar, as hon. gentlemen will all know, is the cane. The sugar cane has more than doubled in price since the war broke out, and, as I have said, the freight on sugar from Cuba has risen fr.om 9 cents to 76 cents, coal has doubled, hydrochloric acid has gone up 300 per cent, and labour has gone up. These items will give satisfactory reasons, I think, for the increase in the price of sugar. It is sold to wholesalers at $8.35 per hundred pounds and retailers are selling it, some as low as 9 cents and some as high as 10 cents, so that the profit does not seem to be very exorbitant.
We have gone into the question of the price of c.oal. We sent out questions concerning coal, not so many or so full as in regard to sugar. We have endeavoured to get the condition aj. the beginning of each of the last four years and then to get a report from month to -month, and we do get it now every month. We sent out to 250 of the principal coal dealers of Canada these questions, and they were requested to answer giving the number of tons of 2,000 pounds each in the yard on the first day of the month in 1916, of egg, stove, chestnut and other varieties of coal. That is for each month. Then they were asked to give the number of tons of 2,240 pounds purchased from each firm during the month and details of each purchase, giving the price per ton for each size at the shipping point, freight and unloading charges, the number of net tons of 2,000 pounds sold and delivered during the month and the price per ton at which it was sold, egg price, stove price, chestnut, and other prices.
These questions were sent to every large coal dealer in Canada, and satisfactory answers were received. We receive cards from them every month; we can tell the quantity of coal m store in Canada at the beginning of every month. Complaints have been made concerning the price of coal in St. John and Montreal. Coal has been sold in Montreal at $15 a ton in the central part of the city and at higher prices in the suburbs. Upon making inquiry, we found that a great deal of coal is sold in Montreal in little bags containing 15 or 20 pounds. These bags are sold at from 15 to 20 cents each, making the price reach from $15 to $20 a ton. The extra charge in Montreal for carrying coal up one flight of stairs is 25 cents, two flights 50 cents, three flights 75 cents, and four flights $1. Coal is

very dear in St. John and Halifax, the price running as high as $13 and $14 a ton. The reason is that the merchants in St. John and Halifax buy not at the mouth of the mines, but in New York, because of their ' being off the line of railway, and they pay as high as $5 a ton for transportation. From the inquiries which we have made and from information received from other sources, we are able to say that the coal dealers in Canada have not charged exorbitant profits. We have been able to ascertain the cost of coal at the mouth of the pit and the cost of freight, and we can readily estimate the cost of discharge, delivery and overhead expenses. Usually the profits made by the dealers do not exceed fifty cents a ton; I think no one would say that that is exorbitant. Sometimes the profit is 65 cents a ton; sometimes 75, but in no case, I think, does it exceed $1.

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