I wish to say a few words about the wages paid in war industry in the county of Shefford. I am afraid that the war plants in my constituency are paying the smallest wages of any war plants in Canada. I am sure that the wages paid there are much lower than the wages paid, for example, at Valleyfield, Bouchard and Cherrier. It will be remembered that an explosion occurred at one of these war plants in my constituency, resulting in the deaths of six or eight persons.
Some time ago I asked a question in the house as to the scale of wages paid but, as often happens, I received a negative answer. It was to the effect that they were paying the average rate of wages paid in the locality. I maintain that there should be a uniform scale of wages in all war plants, throughout the same province at least. I would not expect the government to pay as high wages in war plants as they are paying in the shipbuilding industry in Vancouver, where the rate I understand is around $1 an hour. But certainly female labour should be remunerated in munitions plants at a higher rate than 25 to 27 cents an hour, and men at a higher rate than 35 cents an hour.
A lot of small munitions plants are to be started in Granby, and I hope that before they get started the government will see that the employees are paid a fair wage. I am asking the government to see that these employees get paid as much as employees of other war plants in the province of Quebec. I am sorry to say that in my own community, the city of Granby, the wages are not as high as they should be. I am told-I do not know whether it is correct or not-that some men who hold high positions in the town of Granby used their influence to prevent a new industry from paying higher wages. I do know that we have some sweat shops where female labour is paid 15 cents an hour, and while this is not perhaps a federal government matter I want to impress upon the government, which has control of munitions plants, the importance of paying a fair and reasonable wage. The Minister of Labour may say: We do not want to interfere with the labour laws of the province. But I can assure him and this government that if you pay labour 10 cents an hour more than the provincial scale of wages there will be no reproaches from anybody.
Topic: WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY