Mr. Bona Arsenault (Bonaventure):
Mr. Speaker, may I first be allowed to congratulate the mover of the address in reply, the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mrs. Shipley), as well as the seconder, the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Laflamme). Both made remarkable speeches and brought upon themselves the attention not only of their respective constituents, whom they represent brilliantly here, but also of the people of their province and of the country at large. I most wholeheartedly endorse the congratulations they have received from their colleagues, in every part of this house, since the beginning of this debate.
The women of Canada could not be better represented in this house than by the hon. member for Timiskaming. On the other hand there are very few of the younger members of this house to whom a more auspicious political career could be predicted than to the hon. member for Bellechasse.
The Address-Mr. Arsenault
I also wish to congratulate the new members who, a few days ago, took their seats for the first time in this house. I extend particular greetings to four new colleagues from the province of Quebec, namely: the hon. members for Temiscouata (Mr. St. Laurent), for Bellechasse (Mr. Laflamme), for Quebec South (Mr. Power) and for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville (Mr. Menard). Their presence here is a new and eloquent expression of confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and his government on the part of the people of Quebec.
Our four new colleagues from Quebec have no doubt undisputable merits of their own, but there is one among them on whom I wish to call particular attention, Mr. Speaker, in view of the personal victory he won in his constituency over the combined forces of his adversaries in extremely difficult circumstances and after one of the bitterest campaigns I have been given to witness personally. During that by-election, which won him the right to represent one of the greatest counties in the province, the hon. member for Temiscouata has indeed shown uncommon leadership and thus proved himself worthy of the man whose name he so proudly bears. His victory is due above all to his courage, his purposefulness, his selfcontrol, the confidence with which he inspired the electors in his county, and the dignity he showed while facing fierce and often unscrupulous opponents. The imposing majority given the hon. member for Temiscouata by his constituents in such circumstances should be a lesson to his opponents in the future.
Mr. Speaker, since the start of this debate we have heard a lot about the western farmer.
Though we are well aware of the plight of our western farmers, we must not forget that there are farmers elsewhere in this country, whose problems are quite as worthy of the government's and the people's attention.
This is why I intend to speak to you today, as I have done many times in the past, about our eastern farmers and their problems and, more particularly, of one of their problems, which undoubtedly deserves urgent attention.
If the western farmer grows wheat, Mr. Speaker, the eastern farmer produces butter, apples, potatoes, among other commodities and, more especially pulpwood.
The Address-Mr. Arsenault
The question of the price and sale of butter has been at least temporarily settled by the setting of a floor price, under the Agricultural Prices Support Act, and by selling part of our surpluses at the world price on various export markets. These two government measures, which have been well received by the main agricultural organizations in this country, more particularly by the Catholic farmers' union, in the province of Quebec, have helped in no small way to maintain the standard of living of the Canadian milk and butter producers.
As far as apples and potatoes are concerned, about which we have just been told by the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton (Mr. Montgomery), we know that large crops have been raised by eastern farmers. In some districts a great many potato producers will have a hard time getting an adequate return on the sale of this commodity, so as to cover their production costs.
That is a problem to which the Liberal government has attended successfully in the past and to which, at this time, it is giving close attention.
There remains the marketing of pulp wood. The farmers and settlers of eastern Canada are large producers of this commodity, cutting almost a million cords a year, providing in this way a necessary if not indispensable complement to the rural economy of Quebec and the maritimes.
True, there is a market for the farmers' and settler's pulpwood, but this market, not always being subject to the law of supply and demand is often given over to the rule that might makes right, or to speculation.
The eastern farmer could partake in larger measure of the prosperity of this country if he were in a position to receive at all times a fair price for his products, more particularly for the pulpwood which he offers for sale every year.
When, because of overproduction, he has trouble getting a fair price for his butter, his apples, his potatoes or his other farm products, he understands the reason for this condition. It is a matter of supply and demand.
What he cannot always understand is that pulpwood, the only one of his products for which there exists a practically unlimited demand, does not bring him a greater return, in proportion, than his farm products for
which there is no or hardly any market in periods of overproduction.
In one case, because of overproduction of farm products and the law of supply and demand, the eastern farmer must at times be content with a meagre return for his long days of work. In the other case, that of pulpwood, for which there exists a practically unlimited market, the law of supply and demand seldom comes into play and, in order to provide the necessities of life for his family, the farmer or the settler producing pulpwood, is too often forced to submit to an arbitrary system, in which he still comes out the loser when he is not the victim of obvious exploitation.
It is the province of Quebec which controls the Canadian newsprint industry, with more than half the production for Canada as a whole and, sad to say, it is in the province of Quebec that the bushworker is the worst paid for his labour, and that the farmer and the settler get the lowest price for the pulpwood they market.
The Canadian pulp and newsprint industry reached new records in 1955. Lumber, pulp and newsprint all reached new unparalleled levels.
For the ten months ending November 1, 1955, sales of all forest products to all countries reached the incredible total of $1,265 million, an increase of $145 million over the corresponding period of last year.
During the same period, sales of all Canadian products reached $3,578,200,000, an increase of $393,700,000.
Newsprint production for the whole of 1955 has been estimated at 6,180,000 tons, a gain of $2,588,000 tons since 1945. However great, that increase does not meet a growing demand, particularly in the United States which take up 80 per cent of Canadian production.
The expansion which is planned and some new undertakings will bring the estimated production of our paper industry to 6,200,000 tons in 1956, 6,575,000 tons in 1957 and
6,900,000 tons in 1958.
We have what would be a very good market for all the wood which the eastern Canada farmer and settler could place at the disposal of the pulp and paper companies, were it not for the fact that, in that field, the law of supply and demand is tampered with, directly or indirectly.
In this way, the eastern farmers and settlers would be assured of a fair and well-deserved
compensation for the poor returns from their farms, the products of which are often difficult to market in times of overproduction, as a result of the hard and fast economic laws of supply and demand.
In other words, the prices paid for pulp-wood, and more particularly to the farmers and settlers in the province of Quebec, should not be left to the discretion of powerful, though perhaps well-meaning, trusts, nor to the whims of speculators.
The prices of pulpwood bought from the farmers and settlers should, at least in the province of Quebec, be established on a fair basis which any pulpwood producer could understand.
In order to provide that basis, it would be necessary to set as follows the items which enter into the calculation of the price paid to producers of pulpwood.
1. The value of standing timber.
2. The cutting rate, including piling and opening of roads for haulage.
3. The cost of haulage to the points where trucks can pick up and carry pulpwood in normal conditions.
4. Improvement works, upkeep, fees for right of way and damages.
5. The protection, marking out and upkeep of boundaries, fences and forestry works.
6. Unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation board, and fire insurance on timber cut in danger periods.
7. A reasonable profit.
In most areas of the province of Quebec the value placed on each of those items is as follows:
1. It is generally recognized that the value of standing timber is of at least $5 a cord.
2. The cutting rate for farmers' and settlers' timber should always be equal to the minimum set yearly through collective bargaining, for the same work, on the companies' timber limits. For the year 1954-55 that item would have been $5.50 a cord.
3. The haulage rate for settlers' and farmers' pulpwood, at delivery points, should be equal to the average rate for the same operation on the companies' timber limits, which varies with the cost of manual and horse labour. With a cost of $9.50 a day for manual labour and $3 a day for horse labour at the present time, this item would come to $2.50 a cord.
The Address-Mr. Arsenault
4. Improvement works, the maintenance of tracks, the building of roads, fees for right of way come to 50 cents a cord.
5. Fire protection and prevention; fences, and forestry works implying rational and selective cutting might total $1 a cord.
6. The various expenditures with regard to unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation board, and fire insurance for lumbering operations in danger periods would probably be covered by an amount of 75 cents a cord.
7. A reasonable profit might be estimated at 20 per cent of the total of the first six items, that is $3.05 a cord under present conditions.
When adding the various items of this basic operation, which I believe to be fair and adequate: value of uncut timber, $5; lumbering, $5.50; haulage, $2.50; improvements, 50 cents; protection, fences and forestry work, $1; unemployment insurance workmen's compensation and fire insurance, 75 cents; profits of 20 per cent of foregoing, $3.05, which we believe to be fair; we get for wood marketed by the farmers and settlers a total operational cost of $18.30 a cord at shipping point, that is at the highway or railway station, whereas in various sectors of the province, the same wood, at the same shipping points but cut by pulp and paper companies on crown property would cost them from $19 to $25 a cord and often more.
This obviously does not include the cost oi transportation of the wood from the shipping point to the factory, this price varying with the distance.
With somewhat more than a cord of pulpwood it is possible to manufacture a ton of newsprint. The cost of producing a ton oi newsprint in a modern mill is approximately
Wood: mechanical wood pulp, 86
per cent, at $32 per cord . . $ 27.51
chemical wood pulp, 14 per
cent with 50 per cent yield 8.9(Water: 0-12 per 1,000 gallons 2.4(Steam
306 HOUSE OF
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To which should be added indirect costs
Overhead .... $ 8.90
Debt retirement ... .... 3.60
Interest on capital 0.30
Selling agency .... .... 2.00 15.20
As far as the selling price of a ton of newsprint is concerned, the mills receive $117 a ton in Quebec and $111.60 in New York after subtracting transportation costs which bring this price to $126. This leaves the paper mills a margin of net profit of between $35 and $40 per ton of newsprint.
During the winter of 1954-55 pulpwood was bought from the farmers and settlers of Quebec at $10 or $11 on the average per cord of 128 cubic feet at the shipping point, that is $7 or $8 less than the production costs as appearing in the items I have just brought to your attention. In some localities, settlers received as little as $7.50 a cord for their wood.
Thanks to the representations made by the Liberal members in this house during the previous session on behalf of the pulpwood producers of the province, and to the educational campaign conducted during the summer and the fall of last year by the forestry section of the Catholic farmers union, under the leadership of Mr. Samuel Audette, forestry manager of the UCC federation, the prices of pulpwood were increased on the main by $2 to $3 a cord in the province of Quebec to reach an average price of $12 or $13 a cord and sometimes more.
However, as can be seen from the breakdown I just gave, these prices are still far from sufficient to cover the cost of operation and insure a small margin of profit to the producers of pulpwood.
Several pulp and paper companies have, nowever, given evidence of their will to cooperate, and have shown themselves anxious to contribute to the solution of this important problem of the rural economy of our province.
Negotiations are at present being carried out on this matter between officers of the Catholic farmers union and representatives of the pulp and paper industry. Moreover, on January 17 the executive of the Catholic farmers union submitted a brief to the Hon. J. S. Bourque, minister of lands and forests of the province of Quebec, on this important matter.
The Catholic farmers union requested the establishment of a minimum average price of $20 for an apparent 8 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot cord of good commercial grade resinous wood and of varieties at present accepted for the manufacture of pulp and brought to a carriage road.
Moreover, the Catholic farmers union has asked that the felling rate on crown lands be such as to permit the buying of wood from the woodlots of the farmers. In other words, the C.F.U. wants a legislation identical with that existing elsewhere, for instance in Ontario since 1937, authorizing the province not only to set the minimum price to be paid the farmer or the settler for his pulpwood, but also to fix the quantities of wood which the pulp and paper companies would have to buy from the farmers and the settlers, having regard to their other sources of supply.
The Hon. Mr. Bourque answered that the request of the C.F.U. would receive consideration, but he suggested two ways of improving, according to him, the situation of the farmers and the settlers who sell pulpwood to the companies.
Farmers, he said, should not cut an inch of wood before they have a sale contract, and they should also get together to fix the price and stick to the price they fix.
Anyone who knows anything about the vast problem of marketing pulpwood by the farmers and settlers, will admit that, on the face of it, both solutions suggested by the minister are unrealistic, impractical and unacceptable, if not ridiculous.
It is indeed very much to be regretted that the hon. minister of lands and forests of the province of Quebec does not seem to realize that, without some action by the provincial government, or the goodwill of the companies, thousands of small pulpwood producers will continue to be unfairly treated because most of the pulp and paper companies dispose of endless woodland resources in the province, and are using or abusing this privilege, by maintaining the low prices that prevailed for the past few years for pulpwood marketed by the farmers and settlers.
As the province of Quebec has sole jurisdiction with regard to the crown lands, it is up to the provincial government of Quebec to put some order in those conditions.
Topic: REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT SUPPLY PORTION OF HOUSING ACT FUNDS
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE