I think it is entirely fitting that, having discussed yesterday the No. 1 problem which Canada faces in the field of foreign affairs, we should devote today to discussing the No. 1 problem which Canada faces in the field of domestic affairs, namely that of unemployment. It seems to me that when the estimates of the Minister of Labour come before the committee the minister ought to deal primarily with this problem of unemployment, and that the committee ought likewise to devote its time primarily to this problem.
Many of us recall that when the session opened the government, when it brought down the speech from the throne, promised to create a million new jobs. Since that time the government has created many new jobs. However, the trouble is that all these new jobs have gone to defeated Tory candidates. In the meantime, according to the latest unemployment figures which we have, covering the month of December, 1962, 414,000 Canadians were unemployed. This figure represented 6.3 per cent of the labour force. That figure meant that 414,000 men and women did not have jobs. It meant that they and their families were suffering. It meant that they were deprived of the opportunity of taking an equal part in the development of this country.
I think it is essential that the minister and this committee should realize the magnitude of that figure; I refer to the figure of 414,000 wage earners and salary earners who are out of work. That figure is equivalent to the entire male labour force of the province of British Columbia. The situation is just the same as it would be if every man in British Columbia were without a job. Surely under those circumstances the committee would be able to persuade the Minister of Labour and the government that the unemployment situation was critical, that we faced an emergency condition, and that something ought to be done about it.
I am going to discuss later what the government has done about it and what we think it ought to do about it. Before doing that, however, let me point out to the committee that the figure of 414,000 unemployed is equal to two thirds of the labour force of the Atlantic region. This unemployment figure is one which although it is less than that of a year ago, remains nevertheless a figure which ought to be of grave concern
to the minister, the government, the committee and the house. If the entire male labour force of British Columbia were out of work, or if two thirds of the entire labour force of the Atlantic region were out of work, this committee would demand that the government mobilize the resources of this country in order to put those people back to work. I suggest that under the present circumstances we ought to treat the situation as being just as critical. I suggest that we ought to require the minister and the government to mobilize the resources of the country in order to make sure that those 414,000 people go back to work at the earliest possible opportunity.
It is easy in Canada to get people worked up over a strike. Editorial writers rush into print as soon as a strike or a lockout takes place. However, the time lost as a result of strikes over the last 50 years of Canada's history averages less than 0.2 per cent of the total working time each year. The secretary of labour in the United States Mr. Wirtz, said recently that he was appalled by the realization that in the United States more man hours were lost as a result of unemployment in 1962 than were lost from strikes in the preceding 35 years. Yet editorial writers become concerned about the loss of employment, the loss of man hours and the loss of production which results from strikes and lockouts while this tremendous problem of unemployment which we have had in Canada for many years has ceased to agitate them.
I put the matter in this vivid way in order to bring home to the members of the committee the importance of the problem. If the entire male labour force of British Columbia were out of work we believe that editorial writers would not accept half measures; they would demand action on the part of the government. Instead, when facing just as critical a problem as that, what do we have from the government? No one suggests that the Minister of Labour has not tackled this problem in all sincerity. What we object to is the fact that the government's program has not been adequate to meet the emergency. What we object to is the fact that the government's program affects only the fringes of the unemployment problem.
What have the government done about unemployment? They have instituted a do it now program. They have instituted a winter works program. They have instituted a system of capital grants to the provinces to enable the provinces to carry on technical and vocational training. All these things reflect credit upon the minister and the government, but they do not go far enough. They do not get to the root of the problem. They
constitute a form of unemployment after-care. Nothing has been done to eradicate the hard core unemployment problem, a problem that we have had in this country for many years. This hard core of unemployment has existed ever since world war II.
I know that earlier this week the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate told the house that during the 12 years following the war we had full employment in this country. Those are the very words he used; they appear in Hansard. I think it will be acknowledged in all parts of the house, even among members of his own party, that the hon. member's statement was entirely inaccurate. As a matter of fact his own leader, the Leader of the Opposition, during the debate on the speech from the throne told us that during the 12 years following the war under a Liberal regime unemployment averaged 3 per cent each year. I do not blame the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate for not listening to the speeches of his leader, but I suggest that at least he ought to read them occasionally if only to avoid being unaware of the abrupt changes in policy that the Leader of the Opposition makes from time to time.
Topic: I. 19G3