March 10, 1920

UNION

Henry Arthur Mackie

Unionist

Mr. H. A. MACKIE:

What objection is there to amend the regulations so as to permit the extraction of the oil from tar sand?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

You cannot extract oil by regulation.

Mr. H. A. MAiCKlE: You can get oil from tar sand but there is a restriction in the lease which prevents its extraction.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is a point which I would like the hon. gentleman to write me about. I do not know the exact point to which he refers but if his statement is correct there must be some good reason for the regulation.

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UNION

Henry Arthur Mackie

Unionist

Mr. H. A. MACKIE:

I endeavoured to

get. the department to permit the extraction of oil from tar sand but they refused.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I must remind hon. gentleman that the House is not in Committee and therefore questions cannot be promiscuously put at this stage.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. R. McMASTER (Brome):

I did not intend to take part in this debate and I propose that my entry into it shall be of very short duration., A remark dropped by the minister at the conclusion of his interesting remarks, however, gives me encouragement to bring up a matter which I think is of the utmost importance in connection with this and other allied possibilities. I would imagine that the work of the Dominion Government in connection with matters such as the one before the House this afternoon largely depends upon the success of the operations of the Geological Survey. That is, if the Geological Survey is in good working condition we may expect success, and if it is not in as good operation as it [DOT] should be that success cannot be looked for. It has come to my attention that six months ago there were-and I speak subject to correction-about twenty-four qualified members of the Geological Survey, men whose reputation in Canada and on the Continent is of the highest, and my information is that a very substantial number-I think some six or eight-[DOT] have in the last six months resigned from this very valuable service. No doubt the competition of mining and industrial companies to avail themselves of the expert knowledge of these men is responsible in no small degree for their leaving the public service to enter private employment. Nevertheless, according to the information which I have received, there is another reason fqr their resignation and it is that they have not been given the opportunity to carry out, as they would have desired, scientific investigations and to make known to the public the result of those investigations. These men, many of whom are scientists of the

highest repute, have been for years induced to remain in the public service-not for the salary which they can obtain, because that was not commensurate with what they could gain elsewhere, but from the fact that they were doing valuable scientific work which would redound to the material interests of their country and to their own professional reputation.

Now, it has come to my knowledge that these men have not been given an opportunity of completing and making known to the world the results of the investigation which some of them have been conducting for many years. I place the matter before the minister, assuring him that I believe my information to be correct, and I would invite his careful attention to the matter at the earliest possible moment in order that an opportunity may be presented of dealing with the subject.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

Mr. Speaker-

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. Before the hon. member addresses the House it is my duty to remind hon. members that he is exercising his right to close the debate. Therefore if any other hon. member wishes to speak he must do so now.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The motion calls for

a time to be selected for the discussion, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact we have already fulfilled the purpose of the motion and discussed it.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

Mr. Speaker, I would

ask the hon. minister to note that the day remains open. It would, in my opinion, give a very bad impression throughout the country to negative this resolution, because it can be passed, and to show the good-will of the House, without being brought to that severe concrete stage which might in view of the admirable statement given by the hon. minister embarrass him unnecessarily.

The object in discussing this question was, of course, to discover what condition Canada is in at the present moment with regard to fuel and the other necessaries of life. I touched generally upon those necessaries, because I did not think it incumbent upon me to carry about a pound of butter or a basket of eggs in order to impress hon. members with the details of what I meant. However, the subject dealt with by the minister has been exhaustively and satisfactorily handled by him, and therefore we may repose a measure of confidence upon the fact that the Government is doing all that it possibly can, even to

spending money in the interests of the people, in that respect.

Time and again people have asked me: What is the Government doing? The people did not know, and hon. members did not know; and, replying to the hon. minister, I may say that the ministry did not take the trouble to inform the House. The books and pamphlets which are issued-from time to time in this respect convey a certain amount of information of a geological or mineralogical character, but without discussing economic questions in any satisfactory way. I wish to give to the National Council of Industrial Research the highest possible praise, their intentions are of the best, and they earn far more than the miserable pittance we give them.

I would therefore ask the minister to let this resolution go through in order that the people at large may be impressed with the idea that our minds are not closed to suggestions of progress.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have no objection

to the motion going through, but I would suggest to the hon. member that the first portion of the resolution might be amended. Having secured discussion of the motion I thought it was the intention of the hon. member to withdraw it, as I see no purpose to be served by not taking that course. It does appear to me that it would not be good judgment on the part of this House to announce to the world that a large portion of the people of this country are in a " desperate condition." While of course we have our poor the same as other countries, I think we have a smaller proportion now, and undoubtedly fewer people are at present depending on charity, than ever before in the history of Canada, and certainly no more than in. any other part of the world. Therefore, whatever opinions hon. members may entertain, I do not think it would be wise on the part of this House to propound to the world that our people are in a " desperate condition."

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

I am perfectly willing to accept the hon. minister's suggestion and to let the resolution go through aa, he amends it.

Mr. MEIGHiEN: I move that the resolution be amended by striking out the first recital:

-whereas the rise in the price of necessaries is leaving many of the people of Canada in a desperate condition.

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Amendment agreed to. Resolution as amended agreed to.


A NATIONAL EIGHT-HOUR WORKING DAY.

UNION
UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to state very briefly the reasons why I consented to second the motion submitted by my hon. friend (Mr. Burnham). I hold in my hand a copy of Hansard of the second session of last year, which contains the statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) and his report -to the House of his activities as our chief representative at the Peace Conference. In that statement I find an account of the tentative agreement entered into with regard to improving the conditions for labour, and also a very clear statement that world-wide peace was largely dependent upon industrial and social peace within the bounds of each country, and that this industrial and social peace could best be brought about by instituting certain reforms which apparently were deemed by all to be necessary.

I shall not weary the House by making any lengthy remarks on the subject; I shall simply read one or two brief paragraphs from the statement officially presented to the House last September. The Prime Minister said:

Side by side with the Covenant-

That is, the League of Nations.

stand the provisions of the Labour Convention. It was my privilege to attend the earlier meetings of the Commission which framed the articles on that subject now embodied in Part XIII of the Treaty. At one of these meetings the preamble of the Labour Convention was framed. [DOT] It is as follows.

That preamble contains the following paragraph: .

And whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and privation

to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled;

That is a statement in which this House concurred, and in which I believe all the nations represented at the Peace Conference also concurred. It goes on:

An improvement of those conditions is urgently required; as, for example, by the regulation of the hours of work.

Surely we were serious a year ago when we, as a nation, proudly, I think, entered into this great League of Nations, became a party to it, took our place at the forefront of it. Indeed, Sir, our Prime Minister, if I remember rightly, presented to that Conference these very articles arrived at by the Labour Commission or committee. A little further on, it says:

Whereas also the failure of any nation to adopt humane conditions of labour is an obstacle in the way of other nations which de6ire to improve the conditions in their own countries.

And a little further on, it says also:

Holding as they do,

That is, this particular portion of the Peace Conference, the Labour group.

-that labour should not be regarded merely as an article of commerce, they -think that there are methods and principles for regulating labour conditions which all industrial communities should endeavour to apply, so far as their special circumstances will permit.

Then follow a series of nine specific articles citing what in their opinion should be the process of working out these improved conditions, and this series contains one article, No. 4, reading as follows:

The adoption of an eight-hours day of a forty-eight-hours week as the standard to be aimed at where it has no,t already been attained.

Upon this very important statement, presented to this House by the Prime Minister of Canada (Sir Robert Borden), the leader of the Government that I am now supporting, and arrived at at a conference which studied these problems from a world-wide as well as a national standpoint and at great length and in great detail, I propose to this House in support of the motion moved by the hon. member for Peterborough West (Mr. Burnham) that Canada should, by action of its Parliament, take the first national step, as I believe it would he, to bring into actual existence by law the intimation or suggestion made in this proposal at the Peace Conference.

I take another reason, and it is this, that it is common, ordinary justice. I believe

[Mr. Stevens.1 1 j I ;

that industrial peace, or the settlement of industrial disputes, will be arrived at more speedily and will be made more perman- , ent by the introduction of the elements of justice into the consideration of these disputes than in any other way. Compromise is good; but a frank recognition by a nation of the elements of justice, so far as it is possible to ascertain them, will, I say, bring about permanent industrial and social peace within our boundaries more quickly, directly and effectively than in any other way, and I hold that the demand for an eight-hour day is a just and fair demand on the part of labour. I do not wish this House to infer that I stand behind the extreme demands of labour as they are made in some of their presentations; but there are some of their demands which have the elements of justice pre-eminently present, and I think we should hasten to accede to these.

Another point is this, that already a very large proportion of the great industries of Canada recognize and practise the eight-hour day as a standard day. Therefore, it would be infinitely better, in the interest of a stable industrial condition in Canada, that there should be a national standardized eight-hour day, so that in different parts of the country, manufacturing interests, for instance, would know that in estimating the cost of their products they would have to take into account a standard eight-hour day. Why, for instance, should a factory in British Columbia recognize an eight-hour day, having been forced to that perhaps by the organized strength of labour, and a factory in Quebec, or in the Maritime provinces, or in Ontario manufacturing the same article, recognize a nine or a ten-hour day? The immediate consequence of such a condition is that one manufacturer is undoubtedly handicapped to a greater or lesser degree.

In any case it does not provide for those who are considering investment in industrial concerns any idea of the stability of the hours of labour and of what is commonly called the conditions of the labour market. Therefore, I say it would be fairer to all if we had a standardized day of labour for the whole of Canada rather than to have in one province an eight-hour day and in another a ten-hour day, and in another a nine-hour day, and so on.

In conclusion, let me say this, that the industrial condition of Canada is not by any means in a hopeless state. I look over the world to-day and I read with the utmost attention and interest the reports we are re-

\

ceiving from all quarters, and weighing these with the greatest care and discrimination, I feel that I am not boasting when I say that Canada is in a better condition than any other country as regards industrial and social conditions within its own boundaries. That being the case, I contend that it is strong evidence that we have made no mistake in treating labour with a generous hand, as we undoubtedly have done in Canada in comparison with other countries, and it warrants us in taking this forward step and establishing a standard eight-hour day in Canada. I shall, therefore, support the motion moved by the hon. member for West Peterborough (Mr. Burnham).

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L LIB

Edmond Proulx

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EDMOND PROULX (Prescott):

Mr. Speaker, I am not in sympathy with my hon. friend (Mr. Stevens), because there is a danger of having too much governmental regulation. This question, I believe, can be left to employees and employers to settle. Labour unions are now very powerful; they can dictate their terms to their employers, and in certain industries if an eight-hour day is sufficiently long, I think they can manage to get their requests acceded to by their employers. In certain industries ten hours would not be harder than eight hours a day in others. Most of the industries which run night and day and which require three shifts, have adopted the eight-hour day; hut where industries work only in the day time, eight hours would be a short day, and those industries could not produce the same quantities of goods in eight hours as they could in ten hours. Countries like Germany have maintained the ten-hour day, and Germany is producing more to-day than probably any of the allied countries. This question will also affect agricultural industry. Labour unions are satisfied that it should not be applied to agricultural industry or lumbering operations, but it cannot otherwise than affect agricultural industries. Farmers who live near a town or village will not be able to get their men to work ten hours a day when those men see others in the town or village working only eight hours, and we shall have diminished production. What we need is greater production, particularly in agriculture, and greater export if we are to stabilize the trade of this country. Decreasing the hours of labour will mean diminished production. Agriculture, like lumbering, is a seasonal occupation.

I thank this is a question that can wait, and that can very well be dealt with by the employers and employees. It came before 22

them at the Industrial Conference last September. The labour unions represented there were strong for the eight-hour day, but I think the majority of the employers were against it. I am sorry that all the labour unions in this country were not represented at that conference. There are some labour unions in the province of Quebec which are doing good work and have a large membership that were not represented at that Conference, and these unions are not in favour of the eight-hour day for all industries, although they favour it for certain industries. We have a great war debt, which has to be paid, and how are we going to pay it if we decrease production in this country and lessen the means of earning?

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

There is nothing in

this resolution which would prevent a man from working twenty-four hours a day if he wanted to. The eight-hour day simply means payment on that basis. If anybody wished to make an agreement to work longer than that, it would be quite open for him to do so.

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L LIB

Edmond Proulx

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

But if you make the

eight-hour day the standard, you would not be able to get men in many industries to work longer than that, or you would have to pay them perhaps fifty or one hundred per cent more than the regular rate for overtime. I am not in favour of this resolution, and I hope the Government will not be in a hurry to present to this House any measure for standardizing the hours of labour in this country or adopting the eight-hour day.

Mr. H. A. MACKIE (East Edmonton); I desire to speak to this resolution more particularly on account of what took place in the dying hours of last session, when there was a great disturbance throughout the Dominion, and more particularly in the Western provinces. Having been solicitor for the United Mine Workers of Alberta for ten years, I was deluged at that time with letters and telegrams in connection with the trouble. I brought the matter before the ministers and asked what steps would be taken to meet the situation. The agitation at that time was for collective bargaining, but it also involved the question of wages and hours. I was advised by those in authority that collective bargaining was a provincial matter as it related to the question of wages and hours, and this Government "would take no steps to meet the demands of the people who were agitating at that time. On

the contrary, federal assistance was given to the provincial police authorities in quelling some disturbances which had arisen through the demands which are now embodied, in principle, in this resolution. Subsequently, and during the recess, I was advised through the medium of the press that as the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Peace contained references to working hours that might be adopted all over the world, the Federal Government was ascertaining from the Supreme Court of Canada whether it was competent to legislate along the lines which had been demanded at the last session. I am also advised through the press that this Government has jurisdiction in these matters, and I was therefore surprised that in the speech from the Throne a matter of such great importance. to the welfare and stability of society in Canada was not referred to. One need give only a cursory study to the progress of labour matters in the Old Country as well as here to learn that labour has been exploited to the extent that in some cases it has sought a remedy by revolutionary methods. Fortunately those methods have not been adopted in Canada, for there has been a disposition on the part of the provincial and Federal governments to assist in every possible way. That very excellent piece of legislation, the Lemieux Act, passed by the late Liberal Government, has given great satisfaction all over this Dominion and has saved the people of this country from many difficulties. Now that we are engaged on.reconstruction, which is the word that is used to describe what is going on all over this world, it is only right that this Government should take steps of its own initiative to see that labour is given that measure of consideration which it has been demanding. Rather than adopt this resolution I should like to have the Ministers of the Crown announce that they intend to introduce a Bill this session along the lines suggested in the resolution.

The hon. member for Prescott (Mr. Proulx) has expressed the fear that a reduction in the hours of the working day will mean diminished production. That is an argument that has been advanced in all countries by those who oppose legislation such as is being sought by the labour people in Canada to-day. I have here a book published by Mr. John R. Common, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Wisconsin, in collaboration with Mr. John B. Andrews, Secretary of the American Association for Labour Legislation, after a very careful study of labour conditions in

[Mr. H. A. Mackie.1

America and elsewhere, and I find-page 202-the following statement:

Aside from their weaker physique, the "long day" is especially onerous for women workers because of the double burden of domestic duties and wage work which many of them carry. Ordinarily, men can rest when their day's toil is over, but there are few working girls who do not have at least mending and laundering to do in the evenings, and many married women must take the entire care of their homes and children before and after work.

Moreover,-*

And this is in answer to the remark of my hon: friend opposite-

Moreover, long hours do not necessarily make for the greatest economy and efficiency in production. It is sometimes argued that if hours are reduced output will decline proportionately. This might be true if human beings were mere machines and not living creatures who grow tired. But as a matter of fact the law of diminishing returns operates nowhere more strikingly than in regard to hours of labour. Studies of output before and after a shortening of hours show that where the human element enters into production, hour reductions by no means necessarily imply a decrease in output.

On motion of Mr. H. A. Mackie, the debate was adjourned.

At six o'clock the House adjourned, without question being put, pursuant to rule.

Thursday, March 11, 1920.

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March 10, 1920