Mr. G. S. WHITE (Hastings-Peterborough):
Mr. Chairman, I wish to speak only briefly on this resolution. I regret that the Minister of Labour (Mr MoLarty) has not yet outlined in any detail the principles underlying or the manner in which he will carry out the spending of the moneys to be appropriated under this resolution or indicated the works to be carried out by his department to provide employment. During the debate on this resolution last week, several hon. members from the western provinces gave to the house details of the distress in agricultural districts in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, details which must have shocked many hon. members; but I should like to draw to the attention of the minister the fact that these conditions are not peculiar to western Canada but apply also to certain areas in Ontario. The hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Roebuck) in his speech to-night made mention of the distress that prevailed in his riding in Toronto. I should like to urge the Minister of Labour, in considering the plans of his department for the spending of moneys under this resolution, not to overlook the distress that prevails in many of the rural sections of Ontario.
The riding which I have the honour to represent, Hastings-Peterborough, consists of twenty-seven rural townships. Of these twenty-seven townships nineteen are unsuited for farming or agricultural pursuits except in small isolated areas. This is due to the large number of ranges of hills, large rock formations and poor type of soil. These townships, like all the rest of Ontario, were once covered with very fine forests. These have practically disappeared, and at the present time there is very little timber left for the settlers. The settlers in these townships are practically 100 per cent of British descent. They are not the type of citizen that wants relief. All they ask for is work. They desire the development of the natural resources within the counties of Hastings and Peterborough, and if these resources are developed they will create work for everyone. There are large mining areas to be developed. A great reforestation scheme could be undertaken, and if the tourist industry is developed it will provide work for many people. The conditions that apply to these two counties of Hastings and Peterborough apply to many other rural
sections of Ontario, but I shall deal with these two counties in particular because I am more familiar with their conditions.
In discussing roads I realize, Mr. Chairman, that the building of roads in Ontario comes within the jurisdiction of the province and of the individual counties. But I think it will also be realized that in many of these rural areas the building of roads is one way in which money can be spent to provide employment and relief. In the county of Hastings, for example, which is one of the largest counties in Ontario, there are some 282 miles of county roads, administered and kept up by the county. During the present year the county will spend on these roads the sum of $75,000, being the amount approved by the provincial department of highways. To show you, Mr. Chairman, the large amount of money that is spent by a county for road maintenance, the road from Madoc to Belleville, a distance of twenty-five miles, is paved throughout except for some ten miles, and the yearly, maintenance of this unpaved ten miles of road is $7,000, which does not take into account the cost of snow removal. Naturally the counties are anxious to pave their roads, but in the county of Hastings we are able to pave only one and a half miles of road a year. On the paved portion of the road there is no annual maintenance charge except for the cutting of weeds.
I would urge upon the Minister of Labour that when his department considers the spending of moneys granted under this resolution, he keep in mind the counties of Ontario, and in particular the counties of Hastings and Peterborough, with their hundreds of miles of roads which cannot be properly developed at the present time because of lack of funds. I suggest to the minister that the road conditions in these two counties will serve as an example of tne great advantage to be derived from a plan being worked out between the federal Department of Labour, the province of Ontario and the different county councils for the development of main county roads. Such a plan would create much employment, open new mining areas, and do much to aid the tourist traffic, which in turn would benefit hundreds of settlers in these two counties.
The municipal councils of these townships are unable to pay out much in the way of relief. When one considers that some townships have a total assessment of less than $60,000, one can readily understand why some municipal councils can do little in the way of relief. Taxes in all these municipalities are very high, and within the last few years
Unemployment Relief-Mr. White
several writs have been issued by the county against certain townships for arrears of county rates. Indigent accounts for the county of Hastings amount to between $20,000 and $30,000 a year, and each year there are thousands of dollars of unpaid taxes and many properties are sold for tax arrears.
Certainly there is very little, if any, opportunity for the young man or woman, and little prospect for the future. These nineteen townships in the counties of Hastings and Peterborough constitute a solid block which present a wonderful opportunity for a reforestation scheme, yet to date no such plan has been announced. The land is ideal for the planting of trees, because there is plenty of moisture, but to-day we find that the top-soil is being rapidly carried away. During the last three weeks there were very heavy rains throughout this district, and the lakes, creeks and rivers were at flood stage; in fact the water was higher than after a spring break-up. The reason for this is that the forests have been removed and the greater part of the rainfall is not absorbed into the ground.
These two counties of Hastings and Peterborough, with their hundreds of lakes and rivers, present endless possibilities for the development of the tourist trade. But to attract these tourists we need development of the roads, because the tourist of to-day demands a road to his camping place. Running through the county of Hastings is the only through road east of the city of Toronto leading from the No. 2 highway to Algonquin park or to Callander. This road is the shortest route to the park or Callander for all tourists entering Canada by Ivy Lea bridge. Here is a great opportunity to open up this section to United States tourists, because there is in this county some of the finest scenery in the world. It is a county where every kind of fish is found in large quantities and where game is abundant. The opening of proper roads for tourists would do much to relieve the distress of hundreds of settlers; it would do much to increase the provincial revenues, and it would bring great benefits to the many people engaged in trade in these two counties. At the present time this main road is partly provincial highway, partly a county road, and partly a township road. Until the road is completed and is shown on the tourist maps marked in red as a highway, few tourists can be expected to be attracted to this area.
In the southern part of these two counties will be found one of the finest agricultural districts in Ontario. To-day the farmer in this district is at a loss to know what the
government wishes him to produce. The farmer has no plan to guide him in production. Many of the farmers in these two counties have recently increased the number of hogs being raised, only to find that the price is lower than in normal times. Surely in a time of war it is one of the duties of the government to show some leadership in such a vital industry as agriculture.
The farmer, like every other citizen, is ready and willing to do his part in producing the required foodstuffs required in time of war, but he needs some plan or guidance as to the nature of the foodstuffs required. What encouragement to-day is it to the farmer to increase his production of hogs only to find that the government is permitting the entry of millions of pounds of pork from the United States? It is hardly necessary to repeat in this chamber that agriculture is the back-bone of the country and that until this industry is put on a proper basis, there will be distress and unemployment among the agricultural workers.
Enlistments to date in the counties of Hastings and Peterborough have been very large, and there are many more eager and willing to enlist if they are given an opportunity. But even these enlistments have by no means taken care of the hundreds of unemployed. If this government would at once have a national registration of every man and woman in the Dominion of Canada, it could then have a plan or basis whereby every man and woman would be given an opportunity of performing the war work best suited to his or her qualifications. To-day, when the allies need in unlimited quantities every kind of munitions and other supplies, there are roaming about the country looking for work hundreds of men qualified to work in munition factories and other trades which could make war supplies. I ask the government, why not put these men to work in producing supplies? If this is done, a large part of the unemployed problem will be solved. Why continue spending huge sums each year to alleviate unemployment and provide relief when there is a great need of speeding up the manufacture of war supplies; for I think we are all agreed that the combined efforts of every man and woman in Canada will be needed in our undertaking to carry through our part in this world struggle? .
Since it is necessary to make provision for unemployment and agricultural distress, I should like to make a few suggestions to the committee and to the Minister of Labour:
First, that the government undertake at once a national registration of every man and woman in the Dominion of Canada.
Unemployment Relief-Mr. Hansell
Second, that the Minister of Labour give serious consideration to a plan of flood control and a reforestation scheme in this area of nineteen townships in the counties of Hastings and Peterborough.
Third, that the Minister of Labour consider the great possibilities offered by the counties of Hastings and Peterborough for the development of tourist traffic from the United States by opening up roads, and in particular, by the completion of the road through Hastings county leading to Algonquin park.
Fourth, that the Minister of Labour consider the question of special grants for improving and opening roads to mining properties now being developed in these two counties.
Topic: MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY